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Wednesday, July 1, 2015
What causes basilar atelectasis, and what is the treatment?
Atelectasis means that the lung does not fully expand. There can be many reasons for this, some serious and some not so serious. A frequent cause for atelectasis is not taking deep breaths, often due to pain in the chest or abdomen, such as commonly occurs after surgery. Other things that can cause atelectasis include blockage of the windpipe (for example, from a foreign body or tumor), previous scarring from pneumonia, and blood clots. The treatment is to treat the underlying cause of the atelectasis. In patients who have atelectasis after surgery, we often use "incentive spirometry" (a device that you blow into to encourage deep breaths and expansion of the lungs). Simply taking deep breaths and coughing can also help after surgery.
James N Allen, Jr, MD
Clinical Professor of Pulmonary, Allergy, Critical Care & Sleep Medicine
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University