Silica exposure is not only the cause of silicosis, also associated rheumatological diseases like rheumatoid arthritis (RA), systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), and systemic sclerosis (SSc). This report will reveal the rheumatological diseases of silicosis patients who were exposed to silica while working as denim sandblasters. Additionally, we will describe some clinical and laboratory findings that will help pulmonologist suspect, recognize and manage rheumatological diseases related to silica exposure in patients with silicosis.
We reviewed the records of 142 sandblasters diagnosed with silicosis and found ten silicosis cases who also had rheumatological diseases between the years 2009 and 2017. The occupational characteristics, serological, functional and radiological data, were collected for patients of silicosis with rheumatological diseases.
Ten silicosis patients with concomitant rheumatological diseases were found. Six patients among our cases had diagnosed SSc (4.2%), three of them had RA (2.1%), and one of them was being monitored for SLE (0.7%). The mean silica exposure time of the cases was 4.3±1.9 years (min: 1 max: 8). We also found elevated LD, sedimentation and CRP levels in our cases.
It should be kept in mind that, in silicosis cases with arthralgia, joint tenderness or sclerosis at the fingertips may be indicative of rheumatological diseases related to silica exposure, and in these cases, the unexplained elevations of sedimentation and CRP levels may also be a result of silica-induced rheumatological diseases.