Atelectasis

Atelectasis is an area of the lung that is not completely inflated. In atelectasis in newborns (fetal atelectasis), the lungs do not expand normally at birth. Reasons for this happening include premature birth (being born too early), lack of oxygen, and airway blockage.

In adults, atelectasis may be the result of airway blockage or of not breathing deeply (after surgery or because of neuromuscular disease). Because atelectasis is known to occur most commonly as a complication after surgery, deep breathing is often used to prevent or treat it. Mild atelectasis is not usually a problem. But when atelectasis is severe, it can cause pain and/or shortness of breath, and it can lower oxygen levels.

Atelectasis is treated by restoring airflow to the lung and by removing any blockage.

Last Updated: March 20, 2009

Author: Maria G. Essig, MS, ELS

Medical Review: Michael J. Sexton, MD - Pediatrics & Harold S. Nelson, MD - Allergy and Immunology

related physicians

related services

Bon Secours International| Sisters of Bon Secours USA| Bon Secours Health System

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. Privacy Policy. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

© 1995-2010 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.