How can postoperative atelectasis be prevented?

Updated: Oct 22, 2020
  • Author: Tarun Madappa, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: Nader Kamangar, MD, FACP, FCCP, FCCM  more...
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For postoperative atelectasis, prevention is the best approach. Anesthetic agents associated with postanesthesia narcosis should be avoided. Narcotics should be used sparingly because they depress the cough reflex. Early ambulation and use of incentive spirometry are important. Encourage the patient to cough and to breathe deeply. Nebulized bronchodilators and humidity may help liquefy secretions and promote their easy removal. In the case of lobar atelectasis, vigorous chest physiotherapy frequently helps re-expand the collapsed lung. When these efforts are not successful within 24 hours, flexible fiberoptic bronchoscopy could be performed.

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