ABC Medical Center > Atelectasis

What is Atelectasis?

21:53 - 4 May , 2021


This lung condition occurs when a lung partially or completely collapses due to the alveoli absorbing fluid or deflating, paralyzing their activity.

The origin of atelectasis is due to other respiratory conditions such as tumors or cystic fibrosis, being quite frequent as one of the respiratory complications after a surgical procedure. There are two types of atelectasis:

  • Obstructive: when the airways are blocked, either by mucus, foreign bodies, or the presence of a tumor.
  • Non-obstructive: when the lung is subjected to increased pressure caused by trauma, pneumonia, tumors, pleural effusions, pneumothorax, and other lung diseases.

The use of general anesthesia in surgery is usually a greater potential risk for atelectasis to occur. Among atelectasis’s complications are hypoxemia, pneumonia, and respiratory failure due to pulmonary collapse.

Signs and symptoms Atelectasis

Symptoms intensity depends on the severity of the case, but the most frequent are:

  • Breathing problems ranging from mild to serious.
  • Respiratory agitation.
  • Shallow breath.
  • Noises and wheezing when breathing.
  • Coughing fits.

Depending on the severity of your symptoms, go to your doctor or to the ABC Medical Center Emergency Room to receive immediate medical attention and avoid serious complications.

Potential risks:

  • Weakened lungs from certain muscle conditions or spinal cord injuries.
  • Side effects of some drugs.
  • Head injury.
  • Smoking.
  • Being of old age.
  • Swallowing problems due to various diseases.
  • Asthma.
  • EPOC.
  • Cystic fibrosis.
  • Surgeries with general anesthesia.

Diagnosis and treatment Atelectasis

Once the doctor analyzes your symptoms and clinical history, he or she will perform a physical examination that will include oximetry (measuring the level of oxygen in the blood), a bronchoscopy, and will request imaging studies such as X-rays, ultrasound, and computed tomography.

Treatment options will always be determined based on the direct cause; when it comes to mild cases, they usually correct themselves; when there is excess mucus, drugs are prescribed to dilute it and make it easier to expel; while if there are blockages, a surgical procedure will be necessary to remove them.

At ABC Medical Center’s Internal Medicine Department, we offer health care services with the highest quality and safety, from the prevention, diagnosis, timely treatment, and monitoring of infectious, respiratory, endocrinological, dermatological, rheumatic, nephrological, gastrointestinal, and hematological pathologies of both chronic-degenerative diseases and acute conditions, through a comprehensive and multidisciplinary model.


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  • García ARJ. Atelectasia lobar. Revista Médica Sinergia. 2017;2(04):12-15.
  • Alanís GSG, López GV, Rodríguez BI, et al. Uso de alfa-dornasa en el manejo de atelectasias de difícil resolución en recién nacidos. Rev Mex Pediatr. 2003;70(3):143-145.
  • Moldes AM, Sardina FAI, González RM, et al. Intervención del enfermero intensivista ante un paciente con atelectasia. Reporte de un caso. Rev Méd Electrón. 2018;40(6):2156-2168.
  • Rodríguez MVS, Quiroz VO, Oliva CCM, et al. Surfactante exógeno como tratamiento de la atelectasia pulmonar masiva. AMC. 2015;19(4):374-380.

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