The importance of pulmonary atelectasis as a postoperative complication has gained increasing recognition during the past few years. At first, attention was focused on the instances of massive collapse, as described by Pasteur1 (1908) and again by Leopold,2 who adopted Jackson's designation of "drowned lung," believing the condition to be best described as "post-operative massive pulmonary collapse and drowned lung." This condition is, of course, dramatic in all its phases, but is of relatively infrequent occurrence. However, so-called partial atelectasis is not uncommon—based on my own observations and those of many other observers. In fact, Mastics, Spittler and McNamee3 stated that the atelectasis accounts for about 70 per cent of all post-operative pulmonary complications.
Strictly speaking, the term partial atelectasis is incorrect. Atelectasis is complete in any given area, but is limited to a greater or lesser portion of the lung according to the magnitude or number
BROWN AL. POSTOPERATIVE PULMONARY ATELECTASIS: OBSERVATIONS ON THE IMPORTANCE OF DIFFERENT TYPES OF BRONCHIAL SECRETION AND ANESTHESIA. Arch Surg. 1931;22(6):976–982. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1931.01160060104005
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