Atelectasis natural history, complications and prognosis

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]; Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief:

Overview

If left untreated, atelectasis may be fatal in patients and progress to pneumonia, sepsis, and respiratory failure. Common complications of atelectasis include pneumonia, bronchiectasis, hypoxemia, respiratory failure, and sepsis. Depending on the extent of lung involvement at the time of diagnosis, the prognosis may vary. However, the prognosis is generally regarded as good. Involvement of a small portion of the lung is not associated with life threatening complications, as the remaining lung compensates for the hypoxemia. However, atelectasis is associated with poor prognosis if the surface area of lung involvement is very large, in the presence of pre-existing lung disease, in case of failure to remove obstruction and in case of atelectasis due to cancer.

Natural History, Complications, and Prognosis

Natural History

Complications

Prognosis

  • Depending on the extent of lung involvement at the time of diagnosis, the prognosis may vary. However, the prognosis is generally regarded as good.[3]
  • Involvement of a small portion of the lung is not associated with life threatening complications, as the remaining lung compensates for the hypoxemia.
  • The presence of atelectasis is associated with a particularly good prognosis among patients who develop symptoms postoperatively.
  • Atelectasis is associated with poor prognosis in the following scenarios:[3]
    • Surface area of lung involvement is very large
    • In the presence of pre-existing lung disease
    • Failure to remove obstruction in case of obstructive atelectasis
    • Atelectasis due to cancer

References

  1. Halvorsen T, Skadberg BT, Eide GE, Røksund OD, Carlsen KH, Bakke P (2004). "Pulmonary outcome in adolescents of extreme preterm birth: a regional cohort study". Acta Paediatr. 93 (10): 1294–300. PMID 15499947.
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Atelectasis - Symptoms and causes - Mayo Clinic".
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Atelectasis - Scripps Health".