The three faces of atelectasis

Stewart A Stancil
October 2010

Atelectasis, often known as collapsed lung, is a commonly encountered medical emergency. This case study identifies three different types of atelectasis and how they apply to the law of LaPlace. Different mechanisms include collapse from forces outside the lung parenchyma, a reduction in alveolar size from exudative reactions, and an increase in alveolar surface tension. All three mechanisms result in the condition of atelectasis. All three mechanisms can be illustrated as variables in LaPlace's equation. Physiological causes and treatment considerations are discussed for each type.

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