Beryllium detection in human lung tissue using electron probe X-ray microanalysis.
Chronic berylliosis is an uncommon disease that is caused by the inhalation of beryllium particles, dust, or fumes. The distinction between chronic berylliosis and sarcoidosis can be difficult both clinically and histologically, as both entities can have similar presentations and exhibit nonnecrotizing granulomatous inflammation of the lungs. The diagnosis of chronic berylliosis relies on a history of exposure to beryllium, roentgenographic evidence of diffuse nodular disease, and demonstration of beryllium hypersensitivity by ancillary studies, such as lymphocyte proliferation testing. Additional support may be gained by the demonstration of beryllium in lung tissue. Unlike other exogenous particulates, such as asbestos, detection of beryllium in human lung tissue is problematic. The low atomic number of beryllium usually makes it unsuitable for conventional microprobe analysis. We describe a case of chronic berylliosis in which beryllium was detected in lung tissue using atmospheric thin-window energy-dispersive X-ray analysis (ATW EDXA). A woman with a history of occupational exposure to beryllium at a nuclear weapons testing facility presented with progressive cough and dyspnea and a nodular pattern on chest roentgenograph. Open lung biopsy showed nonnecrotizing granulomatous inflammation that was histologically indistinguishable from sarcoidosis. Scanning electron microscopy and ATW EDXA demonstrated particulates containing beryllium within the granulomas. This application of EDXA offers significant advantages over existing methods of beryllium detection in that it is nondestructive, more widely available, and can be performed using routine paraffin sections.
Butnor, KJ; Sporn, TA; Ingram, P; Gunasegaram, S; Pinto, JF; Roggli, VL
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