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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.

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
Specialist Medical Reviewer Lora J. Stewart, MD - Allergy and Immunology
Current as of March 14, 2013

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 14, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.