Atelectasis is defined as collapse of a part of the lung or the whole lung, where the alveoli are deflated, as distinct from pulmonary consolidation .
The most common cause is post-surgical atelectasis, due to restricted breathing after abdominal surgery. Smokers and the elderly are at much increased risk. Outside of this context, atelectasis implies some blockage of a bronchiole or bronchus, which can be within the airway (foreign body, mucus plug), from the wall (tumor, usually SCC) or compressing from the outside (tumor, lymph node, tubercle)
- cough, but not prominent
- chest pain (rare)
- breathing difficulty
- low oxygen saturation
Post-surgical atelectais will be bibasal in pattern.
As per the underlying cause. Post-surgical atelectasis is treated by physiotherapy, focussing of deep breathing and encouraging coughing. Atelectasis per se does not require antibiotics.
Last updated: 08-29-2005 13:47:14