What is Bibasilar Atelectasis?
Bibasilar Atelectasis is a pathological condition of the lungs in which there is a partial or complete collapse of the lungs or the lobes of the lungs as a result of the alveoli getting deflated being devoid of air. This results in the affected individual having problems with breathing normally. This condition causes problems in breathing and may occur after a surgery.
Bibasilar Atelectasis tends to occur after a complex and prolonged surgery but may also occur as a result of other medical conditions like cystic fibrosis, lung tumor, accumulation of fluid in lungs, trauma to the chest, and severe cases of asthma. Bibasilar Atelectasis can also be accompanied by other conditions like COPD, pneumonia, lung disease and asthma.
Body has two lungs, the right and the left lung, which in turn has lobes. Right lung has three lobes whereas the left has only two lobes. The lungs have tiny air sacs called alveoli which are filled with blood vessels and play an important role when carbon di oxide is exhaled and oxygen is taken in by the lungs or in other words the gas exchange takes place. In cases of Bibasilar Atelectasis, there is a collapse of the lungs as a result of an obstruction which results in the inability of the lungs to take part in exchange of gases resulting in the affected individual having problems breathing due to Bibasilar Atelectasis.
What Causes Bibasilar Atelectasis?
There are a variety of reasons why Bibasilar Atelectasis can occur. These reasons range from an individual being overweight to obstruction of the airways through which air passes. The most common cause of Bibasilar Atelectasis is the use of anesthesia during a surgery since the use of anesthetics reduces the ability of the lungs to take in air which in turn may cause Bibasilar Atelectasis.
Some of the other causes of Bibasilar Atelectasis are:
- Excessive use of cough suppressants
- Airway obstruction as a result of mucous, foreign bodies, or other environmental allergens
- Medical conditions like pneumonia or COPD
- Tumors in the lungs whether it be benign or malignant
- Increase in lung pressure
- A trauma or injury to the chest like a stabbing or a gunshot wound to the lungs.
What are the Symptoms of Bibasilar Atelectasis?
Since Bibasilar Atelectasis affects only a small portion of the lungs hence it remains asymptomatic, although if the entire lungs get affected then the individual will experience the following symptoms:
- Low grade fever
- Problems with breathing, especially while lying supine is one of the symptoms of bibasilar atelectasis
- Limited chest expansion during breathing
- Audible wheezing
- Cough with sputum.
Additionally, the patient may also experience:
- Bluish discoloration of the skin
- Excruciating pain on the affected side of the chest
- Severe anxiety
The above symptoms may indicate a medical emergency and prompt treatment is required to prevent complications from Bibasilar Atelectasis.
How is Bibasilar Atelectasis Diagnosed?
In order to diagnose Bibasilar Atelectasis, a physician may perform a battery of tests and procedures like a complete blood counts, check the functioning of the kidneys, and checking serum electrolytes. Radiographic tests like an x-rays of the chest may be done to look for any obstruction or collapse of the chest which may confirm the diagnosis of Bibasilar Atelectasis.
Physician may do a bronchoscopy to check for any obstruction in the chest which may be caused by a tumor or a foreign body. Additionally, a chest CT and a pulmonary function test may also be done to confirm the diagnosis of Bibasilar Atelectasis.
What is the Treatment for Bibasilar Atelectasis?
The treatment of Bibasilar Atelectasis depends on the cause of the condition. Mild cases of Bibasilar Atelectasis do not require any treatment and heal on their own. If the underlying cause of Bibasilar Atelectasis is a condition like a tumor or a foreign body causing obstruction then treatment may be required. Surgery may be done to remove the tumor and if it turns out to be a malignant tumor then it will be followed by radiation and chemotherapy.
Postsurgery, the patient will be taught certain breathing techniques to allow them to breathe deeply after surgery and help in expanding the collapsed lung back to normal. The patient may be taught deep breathing exercises for this. If there is a buildup of mucous postsurgery then this can be drained out by positioning the body in such a way that the head is lower than the chest which will allow the mucous to be drained from the bottom of the lungs. Bronchodilators may also be prescribed to make breathing easier.
Certain mucous thinner are also used to thin the mucous so that they can be drained easily through coughing it out. Supplemental oxygen is also utilized to allow breathing to be normal during Bibasilar Atelectasis. Airway obstruction causing Bibasilar Atelectasis need to be removed by surgery and again the same protocol is followed postsurgery which has been explained above.
In some cases, bronchoscopy is done to suction out the obstruction and help clear the air passage for smooth flow of air and relieve the shortness of breath caused by Bibasilar Atelectasis. For chronic forms of Bibasilar Atelectasis, surgery may be done to remove a part of the affected lung and treat Bibasilar Atelectasis.