Cobalt related interstitial lung disease

Traci N. Adams, Yasmeen M. Butt, Kiran Batra, Craig S. Glazer

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Cobalt exposure in the hard metal and bonded diamond tool industry is a well-established cause of ILD. The primary theories regarding the underlying mechanism of cobalt related ILD include an immunologic mechanism and an oxidant injury mechanism. Cobalt related ILD may present in subacute and chronic forms and often has associated upper respiratory symptoms. The evaluation begins with a thorough occupational history and includes PFTs, HRCT, and bronchoalveolar lavage. HRCT findings are nonspecific and may resemble NSIP, UIP, sarcoidosis, or HP. The finding of cannibalistic multinucleated giant cells is diagnostic provided there is a history of exposure and appropriate changes on imaging; however, when these cells are not found on lavage, lung biopsy is required for diagnosis. Giant cell interstitial pneumonia is the classic pathologic pattern, but cobalt related ILD may also present with pathologic findings of UIP, DIP, or HP. When cobalt related ILD is suspected, removal from exposure is the most important step in treatment. Case reports suggest that treatment with steroids results in symptomatic, physiologic, and radiographic improvement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)91-97
Number of pages7
JournalRespiratory Medicine
StatePublished - Aug 2017


  • Cobalt related ILD
  • Hard metal lung disease
  • Interstitial lung disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Cobalt related interstitial lung disease'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this