Atelectasis is named for alveolar collapse and has obstructive, compressive, contraction, and adhesive causes.
Atelectasis can occur due to causes that lead to airway obstruction. These will prevent new air from entering the distal part of the airways, and old air will be resorbed. The mucous plug, foreign body, or tumor may cause airway obstruction.
Atelectasis can occur due to compressive etiologies that reduce lung volume. The raised pressure exerted on the lung causes the alveoli to collapse. Reduced lung volume may be caused by pleural effusion or space-occupying lesions.
Atelectasis can occur due to contraction caused by scarring of the lung parenchyma that alters the alveoli. Scarring can be caused by tuberculosis, sarcoidosis, fibrosis, or other chronic destructive lung processes.
Atelectasis can occur due to adhesive causes caused by surfactant deficiency. A lack of surfactant may be seen in ARDS or NRDS in premature infants. Surfactant is used to reduce the alveolar surface tension to avoid the chance of alveolar collapse. By lacking surfactant, the alveolar can collapse.
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