Tests and diagnosis

By Mayo Clinic Staff

A chest X-ray usually can diagnose atelectasis. Symptoms of a respiratory infection, especially pneumonia, on a child's chest X-ray may indicate a foreign body, the most common cause of obstructive atelectasis in children.

To determine the underlying cause, your doctor may order other tests, including:

  • CT scan. CT is more sensitive than plain X-ray in detecting atelectasis because it can measure lung volumes in all or part of a lung. A CT scan can also help determine whether a tumor may have caused your lung to collapse — something that may not show up on a regular X-ray.
  • Ultrasound. Ultrasound may be used to look for fluid accumulation outside the lungs that is compressing the lung tissue. It may also help guide the removal of that fluid.
  • Oximetry. This simple test uses a small device placed on one of your fingers to measure the oxygen saturation in your blood.
  • Bronchoscopy. A flexible, lighted tube threaded down your throat enables your doctor to see and possibly remove, at least partially, obstructions in your airway, such as a mucus plug, tumor or foreign body.
July 14, 2012

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