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Atelectasis

Atelectasis is a condition in which one or more areas of your lungs collapse or don't inflate properly.

PubMed Health Glossary
(Source: NIH - National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute)

About Atelectasis

Atelectasis (at-uh-LEK-tuh-sis) is a condition in which one or more areas of your lungs collapse or don't inflate properly. If only a small area or a few small areas of lung are affected, you may have no signs or symptoms.

If a large area or several large areas of lung are affected, they may not be able to deliver enough oxygen to your blood. This can cause symptoms and complications.

Overview

To understand atelectasis, it helps to understand how the lungs work. Your lungs are organs in your chest that allow your body to take in oxygen from the air. They also help remove carbon dioxide (a waste gas that can be toxic) from your body.

When you breathe, air passes through your nose and mouth into your windpipe. The air then travels to your lungs' air sacs. These sacs are called alveoli (al-VEE-uhl-eye).

Small blood vessels called capillaries (KAP-ih-lare-ees) run through the walls of the air... Read more about Atelectasis

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

Applying positive pressure at the end of each breath during anaesthesia for prevention of mortality and postoperative pulmonary complications

We reviewed the evidence on the effects of positive end‐expiratory pressure (PEEP) during general anaesthesia in adult patients 16 years of age and older.

The use of incentive spirometry for preventing pulmonary complications in adults people undergoing coronary artery bypass graft surgery

Breathing complications after coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery increases hospital stay and is with associated high healthcare costs. CABG may interfere with the lungs, causing sections of them to collapse which may lead to pneumonia. Re‐inflating areas of the collapsed lung may be done by a device ‐ an incentive spirometer ‐ that reinforces a pattern of breathing which prevents and reverses the process. This device is used alone or in combination with other physiotherapy techniques.

Incentive spirometry for prevention of postoperative pulmonary complications after upper abdominal surgery

Previous studies have suggested that between 17% and 88% of people having surgery on the upper abdomen will suffer complications that affect their lungs after the operation (postoperative pulmonary complications). The lung volume tends to fall after such surgeries. These complications can be made less likely and less severe with the careful use of treatments designed to encourage breathing in (inspiration) and thus increasing the volume of the lungs, as these volumes tend to fall after such surgeries. Incentive spirometers are mechanical devices developed to help people take long, deep, and slow breaths to increase lung inflation.

See all (52)

Summaries for consumers

Applying positive pressure at the end of each breath during anaesthesia for prevention of mortality and postoperative pulmonary complications

We reviewed the evidence on the effects of positive end‐expiratory pressure (PEEP) during general anaesthesia in adult patients 16 years of age and older.

The use of incentive spirometry for preventing pulmonary complications in adults people undergoing coronary artery bypass graft surgery

Breathing complications after coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery increases hospital stay and is with associated high healthcare costs. CABG may interfere with the lungs, causing sections of them to collapse which may lead to pneumonia. Re‐inflating areas of the collapsed lung may be done by a device ‐ an incentive spirometer ‐ that reinforces a pattern of breathing which prevents and reverses the process. This device is used alone or in combination with other physiotherapy techniques.

Incentive spirometry for prevention of postoperative pulmonary complications after upper abdominal surgery

Previous studies have suggested that between 17% and 88% of people having surgery on the upper abdomen will suffer complications that affect their lungs after the operation (postoperative pulmonary complications). The lung volume tends to fall after such surgeries. These complications can be made less likely and less severe with the careful use of treatments designed to encourage breathing in (inspiration) and thus increasing the volume of the lungs, as these volumes tend to fall after such surgeries. Incentive spirometers are mechanical devices developed to help people take long, deep, and slow breaths to increase lung inflation.

See all (15)

More about Atelectasis

Photo of an adult

Also called: Collapsed lung, Partial lung collapse

Other terms to know:
Lungs

Related articles:
How the Lungs Work

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