Tests and diagnosis

By Mayo Clinic Staff

To diagnose atelectasis and determine the underlying cause, your doctor may order tests, including:

  • Chest X-ray. A chest X-ray usually can diagnose atelectasis.  Occasionally, a foreign body, a common cause of obstructive atelectasis in children and adults, may be seen on this type of imaging.
  • 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.
  • 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.
June 11, 2015