Below you will find more information about Atelectasis from Medigest. If you believe that you are suffering from any of the symptoms of Atelectasis it is important that you obtain an accurate diagnosis from a medical professional to ensure that you obtain the correct medication or treatment for your condition. There are medical conditions that carry similar symptoms associated with Atelectasis and therefore the information provided by Medigest is offered as a guideline only and should never be used in preference to seeking professional medical advice. The information relating to Atelectasis comes from a third party source and Medigest will not be held liable for any inaccuracies relating to the information shown.


Atelectasis is described as a state in which the lung, in whole or in part, is collapsed or without air. It is a condition where the alveoli are deflated, as distinguished from pulmonary consolidation. Infant respiratory distress syndrome includes another type of atelectasis, and is distinguished and discussed in its own article.


Chest x-ray, computed tomography, and bronchoscopy may be utilized to diagnose atelectasis.


Treatment is directed at correcting the underlying cause of the disease. Post-surgical atelectasis is treated by physiotherapy, concentrating on deep breathing and encouraging coughing. An incentive spirometer is typically used as part of the breathing exercises. Ambulation is also a highly encouraged method for improving lung inflation. People with chest deformities or neurologic conditions that result to shallow breathing for long periods may benefit from mechanical devices that assist their breathing. One method is continuous positive airway pressure, which delivers pressurized air or oxygen via a nose or face mask to help ensure that the alveoli do not collapse, even at the end of a breath.

Symptoms and Signs

Some symptoms of atelectasis includes cough (but not prominent). chest pain (on rare occasions), breathing difficulty, low oxygen saturation, fever-debatable, pleural effusion, cyanosis, and increased heart rate.


The most common cause is post-surgical atelectasis, marked by splinting, restricted breathing after abdominal surgery. Smokers and the elderly are at an even more risk. Outside of this context, atelectasis suggets some blockage of a bronchiole or bronchus, which can be within the airway (foreign body, mucus plug), from the wall (tumor, usually squamous cell carcinoma) or compressing from the outside (tumor, lymph node, tubercle).

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