Lauren A Poliakin MD, DABS, DABOM

General Surgery . Bariatric Surgery . Obesity Medicine


227 W Janss Rd, Ste 300
 Thousand Oaks, CA 91360


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HCA Healthcare Magazine


Atelectasis is a collapse of part or all of a lung as a result of a blockage in one of the bronchi, the tubes that carry air from the trachea to lung tissue. A blockage may be caused by a number of factors, including a buildup of mucus or fluid in the airways. The blockage can also be caused externally to the bronchi by a tumor or a lymph node. It is a common occurrence for a patient who has had surgery or was recently released from the hospital.

Symptoms of Atelectasis

Patients with atelectasis usually experience the following symptoms:

  • Shortness of breath (the primary symptom)
  • Chest pain
  • Increased heart rate
  • Dry cough

Patients who smoke or have lung disorders are at greater risk of developing atelectasis, which can be diagnosed through a physical examination and chest X-ray to confirm the blockage exists.

Treatment for Atelectasis

Treatment for atelectasis focuses on relieving airway blockages. Treatment options include the following:

  • Suctioning (for mild cases)
  • Bronchoscopy (for larger blockages)
  • Surgery
  • Chemotherapy (may be necessary for tumors blocking the bronchi)
  • Respiratory treatments to open the airway
  • Deep breathing exercises with a spirometry device

The best treatment depends on the individual, and is determined after a thorough evaluation by a physician.

Additional Resources