Semi-quantitative X-ray microanalysis of bronchoalveolar lavage samples from silica-exposed and nonexposed subjects

M. Lusuardi, A. Capelli, C. F. Donner, O. Capelli, G. Velluti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


To evaluate the possibility of quantifying alveolar dust burden in conditions of exposure to silica, four groups of subjects were submitted to bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL): 10 healthy control subjects and 39 patients affected by diffuse interstitial lung disease (DILD) never exposed to dust, 23 silicotic patients and 12 chronic bronchitis patients with a history of occupational exposure to silica dust. Five to ten million BAL recovered cells were analysed with an energy-dispersive X-ray microanalysis (EDXA) system to determine the silicon content, expressed in a semi-quantitative way as silicon to sulphur (Si/S) ratio. The results were independent of smoking habit. The Si/S median values (interquartile range in brackets) for the four groups were 0.53 (0.5-0.65), 0.60 (0.41-0.8), 1.23 (1.06-1.39), 1.31 (1.11-1.97), respectively. Silicotics and simply exposed individuals did not show a significant discrepancy, but they were both significantly different in comparison with normal and DILD patients without history of exposure (p0.95 (i.e. 95th percentile value of all nonexposed subjects) is, in most cases, indicative of significant exposure to silica and/or silicates, compatible with pneumoconiosis but of no definitive diagnostic value, since nonsilicotic exposed subjects share the same values with silicotics; 3) a Si/S value

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)798-803
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean Respiratory Journal
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1992


  • bronchoalveolar lavage
  • silica exposure
  • silicosis
  • X-ray microanalysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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