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COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)

Atelectasis

12/16/2007

Question:

I have severe emphysema. A recent CT scan stated severe emphysema with mild dependant atelectasis in both lungs. I understand that means lung collapse, but am not sure what the "mild, dependant" part of this means and what the significance of the atelectasis is regarding the emphysema. Would appreciate any clarification you could give me. Thank you.

Answer:

"Dependant atelectasis" usually refers to "gravity-dependant atelectasis" which means there are small areas of the lung near your spine that may not be fully expanded when you lay down.  This is usually of no particular importance and just an observation on CT scanning.  Although atelectasis does mean lung collapse, it is not specific for how much of the lung is collapsed.  Dependent atelectasis usually refers to a tiny amount of lung that might be collapsed when you lay down, but re-expands when you change position.

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Response by:

Mahasti   Rittinger, RRT Mahasti Rittinger, RRT
Clinical Program Manager of Pulmonary, Allergy, Critical Care & Sleep
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University

Phillip T Diaz, MD Phillip T Diaz, MD
Professor of Pulmonary, Allergy, Critical Care & Sleep Medicine
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University