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What is atelectasis of the lung?

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Quick Answer

Atelectasis of the lung refers to a complete or partial collapse of lung tissue, states HealthCentral. This complication hinders gaseous exchange in the respiratory system.

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What is atelectasis of the lung?
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Full Answer

Atelectasis mainly occurs when bronchus that serve the affected area experience an obstruction, explains HealthCentral. This obstruction is a result of pressure on the lung from fluid or air in the pleural space. Pressure from a tumor outside the lung can also cause obstruction.

When the normal expansion of lungs fails to occur during birth, fetal atelectasis occurs, according to HealthCentral. The causes of such failure include diminished nervous stimulus to breathing and crying, premature birth and fetal hypoxia. Deep breathing failure, tumors and secretions can cause airway obstruction in older people, leading to atelectasis.

The symptoms of acute atelectasis include dyspnea and cyanosis, temperature elevation, shock and reduced blood pressure, says HealthCentral. Patients with chronic atelectasis may develop dyspnea and weakness.

The treatment of atelectasis in newborns involves positive-pressure breathing, oxygen administration and suctioning the trachea to open the airway, claims HealthCentral. A doctor should avoid prolonged administration of highly concentrated oxygen in infants as it may promote atelectasis. It may also result in retrolental fibroplasia.

To treat acute atelectasis, the causes should be removed through methods such as coughing, suctioning and bronchoscopy, recommends HealthCentral. Chest physiotherapy is suitable when airway obstruction is caused by secretions. For an individual with chronic atelectasis, surgery to remove the affected segment it appropriate.

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