Postoperative atelectasis generally occurs within 48 hours.
It is an extremely common post-operative complication with some degree of pulmonary collapse occurring after almost every abdominal or trans-thoracic procedure.
Mucus is retained in the bronchial tree, blocking the finer bronchi; the alveolar air is then reabsorbed, with collapse of the supplied lung segments, usually the basal lobes. The collapsed lung may become secondarily infected by inhaled organisms.
Last reviewed 01/2018