Health A-Z


Clinical Definition

Atelectasis is a partial lung collapse, or, less commonly, collapse of the entire lung. The cause is blockage of the bronchus or bronchioles or pressure outside the lung. Hospitalized patients and post-op patients are vulnerable. Symptoms include respiratory difficulty, cough, chest pain and low-grade fever. Treatments are aimed at relieving the blockage.

In Our Own Words

Atelectasis is a partial or complete collapse of the lung. It happens when part of the lung (or sometimes even the whole lung) doesn’t fill up with air, even though you’ve just taken a breath. This collapse occurs when air passages become blocked, or when there is pressure outside the lung that prevents inflation. Hospitalized patients and those who have just had anesthesia and surgery are vulnerable. Breathing problems, chest pain, cough and low-grade fever are symptoms associated with atelectasis.

Symptoms and Side Effects

  • Dry cough
  • Breathing problems
  • Low-grade fever, especially after surgery
  • Chest pain
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