Atelectasis and Pneumothorax Treatments

Mild atelectasis or a small pneumothorax may heal, and the lung may re-inflate on its own. If not, there are a variety of techniques for clearing blockages, removing excess air and healing the lung.

In cases of atelectasis, your physician may recommend:

  • Percussion on the chest to loosen mucus plugs in the airway
  • Deep breathing exercises with an incentive spirometer
  • Removal of any blockages through bronchoscopy or another interventional pulmonology procedure
  • Postural drainage (tilting so your head is lower than your chest to facilitate drainage of mucus)
  • Removal of a tumor, if it is causing the condition
  • Turning onto your unaffected side, to allow the collapsed section of lung to re-inflate

If a pneumothorax is large, your surgeon may need to place a chest tube between the ribs and into the space around the lungs in order to drain the air and let the affected lung(s) re-inflate. Depending on the severity of the pneumothorax, lung surgery may be necessary for treatment or even prevention of future collapses of the lung. Serious pneumothorax can be fatal if not treated.