When bronchial obstruction develops, as by accumulation of mucus from inflamed membranes, and evacuation fails, the air imprisoned in the lung is absorbed and atelectasis results. This has been demonstrated by repeated and well controlled observations in man and in experimental animals. Methods of prevention and treatment aim to free the lower airways from material by stimulating the natural expelling forces or by instrumentation and to aerate the lung with deep breathing. Thus the theory of the pathogenesis and clinical management of obstructive pulmonary atelectasis is clear on the face of it.
When the phenomena are examined in detail, however, they appear complicated and confused. Opposite effects may result from circumstances that are seemingly identical, and this may occur in the same individual simultaneously in separate parts of the lungs. Contradictory results are seen especially in the action of cough on bodies obstructing the bronchi and in collapse of the
VAN ALLEN CM, LINDSKOG GE. OBSTRUCTIVE PULMONARY ATELECTASIS: PROBLEMS OF PATHOGENESIS AND CLINICAL MANAGEMENT. Arch Surg. 1930;21(6):1195–1213. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1930.01150180311020
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