Plate Atelectasis | Atelectasis

Plate Atelectasis

The so-called plate atelectases are flat, a few centimetres long, strip-shaped atelectases that are not bound to the lung segments and are often located above the diaphragm in the lower sections of the lung. Plate atelectases occur particularly in diseases of the abdominal cavity, for example as a result of an abdominal operation with subsequent bedriddenness and insufficient respiration or ventilation of the lungs. They can also occur in connection with pneumonia, heart attack, whooping cough or as a result of a malformation of the thorax.

What is atelectasis prophylaxis?

Patients who have recently undergone surgery, are immunocompromised and suffer from respiratory diseases, as well as elderly, weakened and particularly bedridden patients, are at risk of developing atelectasis of certain parts of the lung. In order to prevent this, respiratory gymnastics should be performed regularly. .

Since patients in the above-mentioned situations or patients with chronic lung diseases often have an incorrect breathing technique or inefficient breathing due to the circumstances, respiratory physiotherapy teaches certain techniques to improve breathing. By strengthening the respiratory muscles and improving the efficiency of breathing, sections of the lung that would otherwise be less ventilated and at risk of developing atelectasis are ventilated. In addition to regularly performed breathing exercises, the mobilisation of the patient, a sufficient fluid intake and regular rearrangements play a major role in the sense of atelectasis prophylaxis.


The chances of cure with atelectasis are usually very good, secondary forms are in principle always reversible. Pronounced forms, such as tension pneumothorax, are very well treatable, but can lead to death if left untreated.

Respiratory Physiology

At the smallest level, in the healthy lung, fresh air is brought together with blood from the body, separated only by the unimaginably thin wall of a pulmonary alveolus, in which the air is located, and the equally wafer-thin wall of the fine veins (capillaries), in which the blood flows around the air bubble. The concentrations of CO2 and oxygen in blood and air can now be adjusted via this thin barrier. The CO2-rich blood from the body releases this into the CO2-poor air, in return oxygen (O2) from the air enters the blood, which has previously released its oxygen to the body.

Through steady breathing and the flow of the blood the difference in concentration is maintained and a continuous gas exchange is possible. The lung itself constantly tends to contract, i.e. “collapse”, due to elastic components in the lung tissue as well as the surface tension of the liquid layer lining the pulmonary alveoli. It is prevented from doing so by the negative pressure between the lung and the chest wall, which always pulls it apart. When inhaled, the lung is further unfolded by lowering the diaphragm and widening the ribcage.