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Bibasilar atelectasis is a disorder which results in the collapse of lung tissue, thereby not allowing the respiratory exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide. It is an airless or collapsed state of the lung, which can be chronic or acute and affect a part of, or the entire lung.

An individual affected by bibasilar atelectasis experiences collapse of the alveoli, i.e. the small air pockets occurring in the lung. This interferes with the breathing abilities of the affected section of the lung. Bibasilar atelectasis can occur along with lung conditions like COPD, pneumonia and asthma. It may occur in patients who have undergone general anesthesia, post surgery.

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Symptoms of bibasilar atelectasis

Some of the signs and symptoms of bibasilar atelectasis are as follows:

  • Acute bibasilar atelectasis which results in sudden blockage of the bronchus, can cause symptoms such as cyanosis, increase in temperature, dyspnea, shock, or fall in the blood pressure
  • The chronic form of bibasilar atelectasis may not result in any symptoms, but often lead to slow development of weakness and dyspnea
  • When examined via an X-ray, the section affected by the collapse may elicit a collapse area. In case there is collapse of an entire lobe, then the X-ray will elicit a deviation of the heart, the trachea and, mediastinum towards the collapsed region, along with elevation of the diaphragm on that side
  • A doctor may include a bronchoscopy in the diagnostic tests to rule out the presence of foreign matter or an obstructing neoplasm, if the cause is not known.
  • Other signs of the condition may include fever, excessive breathlessness and reduced sounds of breathing

Causes of bibasilar atelectasis

  • Bibasilar atelectasis may be caused due to blockage of the bronchioles and the prominent airways, which results from pressure on the lung by a tumor occurring outside the lung, or by air of fluid occurring within the pleural space.
  • In fetal bibasilar atelectasis, there is no normal expansion of the lung at birth. This may be caused due to various reasons, such as reduced nervous stimulus to crying or breathing; premature delivery; blockage of the bronchus by a plug of mucus; or fetal hypoxia due to different causes, which include excessive sedation of the mother during delivery and labor.
  • In older adults, bibasilar atelectasis may be caused due to obstruction of the airways resulting from emissions of a tumor, etc; or due to inability to breathe deeply resulting from neuromuscular conditions, post-surgery side effects, etc.
  • Bibasilar atelectasis often develops as a complication in the period after operations, when incentive spirometry and deep breathing are usually employed to treat or prevent it.

Bibasilar atelectasis treatment

  • Newborns affected by bibasilar atelectasis are treated via trachea suctioning to create an open airway, oxygen administration and positive pressure breathing.
  • Suctioning, bronchoscopy, and coughing are generally employed to alleviate the possible causes of acute bibasilar atelectasis and thereby treat the condition
  • Airway blockages that result in bibasilar atelectasis are treated via chest physiotherapy
  • Secondary bibasilar atelectasis that results in infections is treated via antibiotics
  • Chronic bibasilar atelectasis is treated via surgical removal of the affected lung lobe


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