atelectatic /at'l ek tat"ik/, adj.
/at'l ek"teuh sis/, n. Pathol.
1. incomplete expansion of the lungs at birth, as from lack of breathing force.
2. collapse of the lungs, as from bronchial obstruction.
[1855-60; < NL; see ATELIOSIS, ECTASIS]

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or lung collapse

Lack of expansion of pulmonary alveoli (see pulmonary alveolus).

With a large-enough collapsed area, the victim stops breathing. In adhesive atelectasis, obstruction or lack of surface tension keeps a newborn's alveoli from expanding. Compression atelectasis is caused by external pressure. Obstructive atelectasis may be caused by blockage of a major airway or when pain from abdominal surgery keeps breathing too shallow to clear bronchial secretions; treatment involves removal of obstruction or fluids, control of infection, and lung reinflation.

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▪ medical disorder
      derived from the Greek words atelēs and ektasis, literally meaning “incomplete expansion” in reference to the lungs (lung). The term atelectasis can also be used to describe the collapse of a previously inflated lung, either partially or fully, because of specific respiratory disorders. There are three major types of atelectasis: adhesive, compressive, and obstructive.

      Adhesive atelectasis is seen in premature infants (childhood disease and disorder) who are unable to spontaneously breathe and in some infants after only a few days of developing breathing difficulties; their lungs show areas in which the alveoli, or air sacs, are not expanded with air. These infants usually suffer from a disorder called respiratory distress syndrome (respiratory distress syndrome of newborns), in which the surface tension inside the alveolus is altered so that the alveoli are perpetually collapsed. This is typically caused by a failure to develop surface-active material (surfactant) in the lungs. Treatment for infants with this syndrome includes replacement therapy with surfactant.

      Compressive atelectasis is caused by an external pressure on the lungs that drives the air out. Collapse is complete if the force is uniform or is partial when the force is localized. Local pressure can result from tumour growths, an enlarged heart, or elevation of the diaphragm. The ducts and bronchi leading to the alveoli are squeezed together by the pressure upon them.

      Obstructive atelectasis may be caused by foreign objects lodged in one of the major bronchial passageways, causing air trapped in the alveoli to be slowly absorbed by the blood. It may also occur as a complication of abdominal surgery. The air passageways in the lungs normally secrete a mucous substance to trap dust, soot, and bacterial cells, which frequently enter with inhaled air. When a person undergoes surgery, the anesthetic stimulates an increase in bronchial secretions. Generally, if these secretions become too abundant, they can be pushed out of the bronchi by coughing or strong exhalation of air. After abdominal surgery, the breathing generally becomes more shallow because of the sharp pain induced by the breathing movements, and the muscles beneath the lungs may be weakened. Mucous plugs can result that cause atelectasis. Other causes of obstruction include tumours or infection.

      The symptoms in extreme atelectasis include low blood oxygen content, which manifests as a bluish tint to the skin, absence of respiratory movement on the side involved, displacement of the heart toward the affected side, and consolidation of the lungs into a smaller mass. If a lung remains collapsed for a long period, the respiratory tissue is replaced by fibrous scar tissue, and respiratory function cannot be restored.

      Treatment for obstructive and compressive atelectasis is directed toward removal of any obstruction or compressive forces.

Michael F. Beers

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Universalium. 2010.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • atelectasis — incomplete expansion of the lungs, 1836, medical Latin, from Gk. ateles imperfect, incomplete, lit. without an end, (from a , privative prefix, + telos completion ) + ektosis extention. Related: Atelectatic …   Etymology dictionary

  • atelectasis — [at΄ə lek′tə sis] n. pl. atelectases [at΄ə lek′təsēz΄] [ModL < Gr atelēs, incomplete ( < a , without + telos, end: see WHEEL) + ektasis, a stretching out < ek , out + teinein, to stretch: see THIN] the collapse of all or part of a lung …   English World dictionary

  • Atelectasis — DiseaseDisorder infobox Name = Atelectasis ICD10 = ICD10|J|98|1|j|95 ICD9 = ICD9|518.0 ICDO = Caption = OMIM = OMIM mult = MedlinePlus = 000065 eMedicineSubj = med eMedicineTopic = 180 DiseasesDB = 10940 MeshID = D001261 Atelectasis is a collapse …   Wikipedia

  • atelectasis — Decreased or absent air in the entire or part of a lung, with resulting loss of lung volume. Loss of lung volume itself. SEE ALSO: pulmonary collapse. [G. ateles, incomplete, + ektasis, extension] adhesive a. alveolar …   Medical dictionary

  • atelectasis — n. failure of part of the lung to expand. This occurs when the cells lining the air sacs (alveoli) are too immature, as in premature babies, and unable to produce the wetting agent (surfactant) with which the surface tension between the alveolar… …   The new mediacal dictionary

  • Atelectasis, secondary — Partial or complete collapse of a previously expanded lung. Secondary atelectasis may occur in a variety of situations including sometimes after chest surgery …   Medical dictionary

  • atelectasis — noun (plural atelectases) Etymology: New Latin, from Greek atelēs incomplete, defective (from a 2a + telos end) + ektasis extension, from ekteinein to stretch out, from ex + teinein to stretch more at telos, thin Date …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • atelectasis — noun The collapse of a part of or the whole lung caused by inner factors rather than a pneumothorax …   Wiktionary

  • atelectasis — n. collapse of the lungs (Medicine) …   English contemporary dictionary

  • atelectasis — [ˌatɪ lɛktəsɪs] noun Medicine partial collapse or incomplete inflation of the lung. Origin C19: from Gk atelēs imperfect + ektasis extension …   English new terms dictionary

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