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Atelectasis Causes

Generally, the common reason for this condition is post-surgical atelectasis which is characterized restricted breathing, splinting, and after the surgery of the abdomen. There is an increased risk for elderly patients and those that smoke. Outside the common context, atelectasis is an implication of some blockage of the bronchus or bronchiole. This could happen within the airway (it could be a mucous plug or a foreign body); outside compression of tumors, lymph nodes or tubercles; and from the wall (this is often a squamous cell carcinoma or a tumor). Another possible cause is poor surfactant spread while inspiring which causes surface tension increase. This tension tends to collapse the smaller alveoli. There are numerous kinds of atelectasis which are classified according to their underlying means or the distribution of the collapse of the alveoli; microatelectasis; resorption; and contraction atelectasis.

Atelectasis Classifications

The condition of atelectasis could be acute or chronic. Acute atelectasis is a condition when the lung has collapsed recently and is notably airless. This is the more common of the two and is often a result of postoperative complications (especially after abdominal or chest surgery). This type may also manifest after an injury to the chest (e.g. car accident, stabbing or falling). Chronic atelectasis is more complicated than the acute form because it shows the following characteristics: airlessness; bronchi widening or bronchiectasis; destruction; infection; and scarring or fibrosis.

Atelectasis Definition

Atelectasis is the term used for the medical state in which there is a partial or complete lung collapse. When the lung collapses, air distribution is affected and this is the when the alveoli become deflated (distinct from pulmonary consolidation). Infant respiratory distress syndrome includes a different kind of atelectasis.

Atelectasis Symptoms and Signs

The most common symptoms of atelectasis are the following: a non-prominent cough; a very rare chest pain; difficulty of breathing; the saturation of oxygen is low; fever (which is a much debated symptom as there is still no evidence that would support this although it is already accepted as a possible symptom); pleural effusion (the transudate form); late sign of cyanosis; and an increased heart rate. X-rays could easily diagnose this condition.

Atelectasis Treatment

The treatment aims to correct the underlying causes of the condition. Post-surgical atelectasis is often treated by physiotherapy. Patients are also advised to keep moving around and to use incentive spirometer during breathing exercises. The use of ventilators could also greatly help. If any infections develop, antibiotics should be administered.

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