Anthracosis of the Lungs: Etiology, Clinical Manifestations and Diagnosis: A Review

Document Type : Review Article


Department of Internal Medicine, 22th of Bahman Hospital, Islamic Azad University, Mashhad Branch, Mashhad, Iran.


Anthracosis of the lungs is black discoloration of bronchial mucosa that can occlude bronchial lumen and is associated with bronchial anthracofibrosis (BAF). This disease usually presents with a chronic course of dyspnea and or cough in an elderly non-smoker woman or man. In addition, concomitant exposure to dust and wood smoke is the most postulated etiology for anthracosis. Pulmonary function tests usually show an obstructive pattern with no response to bronchodilators and normal DLCO, but some cases with restrictive pattern have also been seen. Computed tomography (CT) may show more specific findings such as lymph node or bronchial calcification and mass lesions. Final diagnosis can be made by bronchoscopy when obtaining samples for tuberculosis (TB), which is the most common disease associated with BAF. Endobronchial ultrasound shows a hypoechoic scattered nodular pattern in adjacent lymph nodes, which is unique to anthracosis. Treatment is very similar to that of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) with a chronic course and low mortality. This review discusses this disease as a separate entity; hence, anthracosis should be added to the list of obstructive lung diseases and benign mass lesions and differentiated from biomass induced COPD.