Atelectasis is a term that describes extra fluid on the lungs. When involving small areas of the lung, atelectasis is usually of no clinical concern. Atelectasis is not really a disease in and of itself but simply a symptom. Children commonly have some atelectasis with the common cold or after surgical procedures. Atelectasis may be confused with other conditions on chest x-ray such as pneumonia or lung edema. Atelectasis usually resolves without any intervention but may cause fever. Severe atelectasis may turn into pneumonia. After surgical procedures or when confined to bed due to illness is important to breathe deeply or to get out of bed when possible to expand the lungs and prevent atelectasis.
What is atelectasis?
Atelectasis is extra fluid in the small air sacs of the lung. It is common with any kind of respiratory infection or when the lungs are not expanded well such as after a surgical procedure.This is one of the main reasons that patients are encouraged to get out of bed and walk around shortly after surgical procedures.
What are the symptoms of atelectasis?
For mild atelectasis there may be no symptoms.
- Cough or wheezing
- Shortness of breath
On physical exam...
- Decreased breath sounds
- Wheezing or crackles over certain areas of the chest
- Dullness when the chest is tapped with a finger
On chest xray...
Increased opacity in certain lung areas
What is the treatment for atelectasis?
- Atelectasis improves with deep breathing or cough.
- Treatment of the underlying disease often makes atelectasis better.
- Some children with respiratory disease may benefit from chest physiotherapy which involves pounding on the chest with a hand or other device to loosen fluid.
When is atelectasis not atelectasis?
Atelectasis may be confused with...
- Airway foreign body
- Acute chest syndrome in patients with sickle cell disease
- A normal thymus in children
- Congenital malformations
- Pleural effusion
Last Updated (Saturday, 29 May 2010 21:47)