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How to prevent atelectasis?

Atelectasis can be a complication of surgery. When recovering from surgery, frequent repositioning in bed along with coughing and deep breathing are important. Coughing and breathing deeply every one to two hours after any surgical operation with general anesthesia is recommended. Breathing exercises and the use of breathing devices, such as an incentive spirometer, may also help prevent atelectasis. Although smokers have a higher risk of developing atelectasis following surgery, stopping smoking six to eight weeks before surgery can help reduce the risk. Increasing fluid intake during respiratory illness or after surgery (by mouth or intravenously) helps lung secretions to remain loose. Increasing humidity may also be beneficial. Long-acting anesthetics should be avoided and narcotics used judiciously after surgery because they depress the cough reflex.

 

More information on atelectasis

What is atelectasis? - Atelectasis is the collapse of part or all of a lung by blockage of the air passages, or by very shallow breathing.
What causes atelectasis? - The most common cause of atelectasis is an obstruction of a large bronchus. Adhesive or congenital atelectasis results from the lack of surfactant.
What're the symptoms of atelectasis? - Symptoms and signs of atelectasis include shortness of breath and decreased chest wall expansion.
How is atelectasis diagnosed? - Atelectasis is diagnosed by a person's symptoms, the physical examination findings, and the setting in which the symptoms occurred.
What's the treatment for atelectasis? - The goal of treatment for atelectasis is to remove pulmonary (lung) secretions and re-expand the affected lung tissue.
How to prevent atelectasis? - Breathing exercises and the use of breathing devices, such as an incentive spirometer, may help prevent atelectasis.
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