Alternate Names : Partial lung collapse
The goal of treatment is to re-expand the collapsed lung tissue. If fluid is compressing the lung, removing the fluid may allow the lung to expand.
The following are treatments for atelectasis:
- Clap (percussion) on the chest to loosen mucus.
- Perform deep breathing exercises (incentive spirometry).
- Remove any obstruction by bronchoscopy or another procedure.
- Tilt the person so their head is lower than their chest (called postural drainage). This allows mucus to drain more easily.
- Treat a tumor or underlying condition, if there is one.
- Turn the person so they are lying on their healthy side, allowing the collapsed area of lung to re-expand.
- Use aerosolized respiratory treatments (inhaled medications) to open the airway.
In an adult, atelectasis in a small area of the lung is usually not life threatening. The rest of the lung can make up for the collapsed area, bringing in enough oxygen for the body to function.
Large atelectases may be life threatening, especially in a baby or small child, or someone who has another lung disease or illness.
The collapsed lung usually reinflates gradually once the obstruction has been removed. However, some scarring or damage may remain.
Pneumonia may develop rapidly after atelectasis.
Massive atelectasis may result in the complete collapse of a lung.
Calling Your Health Care Provider
Call your health care provider if you develop symptoms of atelectasis.