Prognosis of Atelectasis

The prognosis for those people with atelectasis depends on the severity and the extent of damage to the lungs. In adults, atelectasis affecting a small part of the lung is not life threatening, as the rest of the lung can provide enough oxygen for the body to function normally.

Atelectasis that affects a major part of the lungs can be life threatening. This is more so in the case of premature babies, small children or persons with another lung disease.

If the atelectasis is caused by an obstruction to the airways, the lung may slowly re-inflate once the blockage has been removed, but there will be some damage to the lung.

Some of the complications that may arise due to atelectasis include:

  • Hypoxemia: Low blood oxygen levels owing to the inability of the lungs to provide enough oxygen to the alveoli.
  • Scarring of the Lungs: This may result in bronchiectasis.
  • Pneumonia
  • Respiratory failure

  1. Janet Aldrich, Chapter 62 - Atelectasis, In: Lesley G. King, MVB, MRCVS, DACVECC, DACVIM, DECVIM-CA, Editor(s), Textbook of Respiratory Disease in Dogs and Cats, W.B. Saunders, Saint Louis, 2004, Pages 465-472, ISBN 9780721687063, 10.1016/B978-0-7216-8706-3.50066-9.