Pulmonary Atelectasis Workup

Updated: Jun 16, 2023
  • Author: Nazir A Lone, MD, MBBS, MPH, FACP, FCCP; Chief Editor: Girish D Sharma, MD, FCCP, FAAP  more...
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Laboratory Studies

Laboratory studies in pulmonary atelectasis should include measurement of oxygenation, either by oximetry or ABG.

Microbiological tests to detect underlying infection.

Pulmonary function studies may detect unrecognized airflow obstruction, restrictive disease, or decreased respiratory muscle pressures.


Imaging Studies

CT scanning: Chest CT scanning may help evaluate for compression of the airway. CT scanning may also detect any underlying pathology that predisposes to atelectasis. It may also reveal diffuse disease not suggested by plain radiography.

Chest radiography: Plain chest radiography is often the first study to reveal atelectasis but may fail to detect small areas of atelectasis.

A study that evaluated the usefulness of lung ultrasonography for the diagnosis of neonatal pulmonary atelectasis reported that lung ultrasonography is an accurate and reliable method for diagnosing neonatal pulmonary atelectasis. The authors also added that lung ultrasonography can find concealed lung atelectasis that could not be detected on a chest radiograph. The advantages of lung ultrasound include avoiding transport, easy to control body position, no radiation exposure, and it is available at bedside. [8]