The lungs are among the most important organs in the body. Located on either side of the chest, they not only allow us to take in oxygen from the air but also help to remove carbon dioxide, a waste product of respiration. Like most biological structures, however, they can succumb to disease. Asthma, bronchitis, cystic fibrosis, and pneumonia are all conditions that affect the lungs. When parts of the lungs' air sacs collapse, atelectasis occurs.
Atelectasis is a condition in which the alveoli—the air sacs of the lungs—do not expand properly. As a result, the blood may not receive adequate oxygen—a situation that can lead to various health issues. Depending on the underlying cause, atelectasis may affect part or all of a lung. While many refer to it as a collapsed lung, the condition is not synonymous with a pneumothorax. In contrast to atelectasis, which is characterized by the collapse of one or more parts of the lung, pneumothorax refers to a state in which there is air in the pleural cavity.
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