Donate to Atelectasis and Pneumothorax Research, Patient Care and Education

Atelectasis and pneumothorax are conditions that involve the full or partial collapsing of the lungs. The two conditions are similar, but have several differences. In atelectasis, sections of the lungs collapse due to blockage or pressure in or around the pleura. The causes of atelectasis include an object or tumor in the airway, mucus blocking an airway, certain lung diseases, and fluid or air buildup in the space around the lung. Pneumothorax occurs when air encompasses the space between the lung and chest wall, causing all or part of the lung to collapse. The primary cause of pneumothorax is an injury to the chest cavity that punctures the lung.

Specialists involved with the Thoracic Surgery Program at Northwestern Medicine have considerable expertise in providing the best care and practices for pneumothorax, atelectasis and other diseases of the chest. This program offers patients a highly-skilled team of professionals, advanced diagnostic testing technologies, minimally invasive surgical techniques and convenient patient and family services. By donating to Northwestern Memorial Foundation, you will make it possible for the physician-scientists in Northwestern Medicine’s Thoracic Surgery Program to continue providing excellent patient care and to further advance their leading-edge research.

The most common symptoms of atelectasis and pneumothorax are difficulty breathing and chest pain. A person should immediately seek medical attention if he or she if experiences sudden, sharp pains in the chest, trouble breathing, cyanosis or fainting with any of these symptoms.

In mild cases of atelectasis and pneumothorax, it is possible for the lung to heal and re-inflate on its own. If this re-inflation does not occur, several other treatments are available. In patients with atelectasis, treatments include:

  • Deep breathing exercises with an incentive spirometer
  • Use of bronchoscopy to remove any blockages
  • Postural drainage, a technique to drain mucus from the chest
  • Drumming on the chest to loosen mucus plugs in the airway
  • Removal of a tumor that is causing atelectasis
  • Turning onto the unaffected side to give the collapsed section of the lung a chance to re-inflate

Patients with a large pneumothorax may need a chest tube between the ribs and the areas around the lungs to drain the air and allow for the lungs to re-inflate. Lung surgery may be needed in severe cases of pneumothorax.

Atelectasis and Pneumothorax Research Donation

Pneumothorax can be fatal, but, if it is treated properly, it does not have to be fatal. Patients seeking medical treatment for pneumothorax and atelectasis can feel confident that the physicians at Northwestern Medicine will provide the finest, most comprehensive care available. Your donation to Northwestern Medicine will ensure that patients will continue to receive this superior level of care.

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