The following complications may result from atelectasis:

  • Low blood oxygen (hypoxemia). Atelectasis hampers your lungs' ability to get oxygen to the alveoli.
  • Lung scarring. Some damage or scarring may remain after the lung is reinflated, resulting in bronchiectasis.
  • Pneumonia. You're at greater risk of developing pneumonia until the atelectasis has been cleared. The mucus in a collapsed lung is a breeding ground for bacterial infections.
  • Respiratory failure. A small area of atelectasis, especially in an adult, usually is treatable. But a large area, particularly in an infant or in someone with lung disease, can be life-threatening.
Jul. 14, 2012