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• The closure or collapse of the alveoli
• Most commonly described in relation
to x-ray findings and clinical signs
and symptoms
• Maybe acute or chronic

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 occurs frequently in the post-
operative setting or in people who are
immobilized and have a shallow,
monotonous breathing pattern.

 Observed in patients with chronic
airway obstruction that impedes or
blocks air flow to an area of the lung.
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Atelectasis may occur as a result of
reduced alveolar ventilation or any
type of blockage that impedes
passage of air to and from the alveoli
that normally receive air through the
bronchi and network of airways.

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The trapped alveolar air becomes
absorbed into the bloodstream, but
outside air cannot replace absorbed
air because of the blockage. Thus,
the isolated portion of the lung
becomes airless and the alveoli

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Signs and Symptoms
• Cough
• Sputum production
• Low grade fever
• Dyspnea
• Tachycardia
• Tachypnea
• Pleural pain
• Central cyanosis (a bluish skin hue – sign of

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Medical Management
• Bronchodilators
• Bronchoscopy
• Thoracentesis
• Cryotheraphy
• Laser Therapy

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Nursing Management
• Frequent turning.
Change patient’s position frequently,
especially from supine to upright position,
to promote ventilation and prevent
secretions from accumulating.

• Early mobilization
Encourage early mobilization from bed to
chair followed by early ambulation.

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Lung Volume Expansion Exercises
• Deep Breathing Exercises (every 2 hours)
Encourage appropriate deep breathing
and coughing to mobilize secretions and
prevent them from accumulating.
Teach/reinforce appropriate technique
for spirometry.

• Secretion Management
(suctioning, aerosol nebulization, chest
percussion, postural drainage)

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Administer opiods and sedatives cautiously
to prevent respiratory depression.

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