The following complications may result from atelectasis:

  • Low blood oxygen (hypoxemia). Atelectasis hampers your lungs' ability to get oxygen to the alveoli.
  • Pneumonia. You're at greater risk of developing pneumonia until the atelectasis has been cleared. Mucus in a collapsed lung may lead to infection.
  • Respiratory failure. A small area of atelectasis, especially in an adult, usually is treatable. But loss of a lobe or a whole lung, particularly in an infant or in someone with lung disease, can be life-threatening.
June 11, 2015