Imaging

Atelectasis

Preliminary Diagnosis: Atelectasis

I. What imaging technique is first-line for this diagnosis?

  • Chest radiography: PA and lateral views

II. Describe the advantages and disadvantages of this technique for diagnosis of atelectasis.

Advantages

  • Inexpensive

  • Portable

  • Quick imaging modality.

  • Exposes patients to minimal ionizing radiation

Disadvantages

  • Less sensitive and specific to subtle area of suspected atelectasis.

  • Less adept in detailing any underlying primary process (mass or infection), resulting in secondary atelectasis compared with CT

III. What are the contraindications for the first-line imaging technique?

No specific contraindications to plain radiography exist.

IV. What alternative imaging techniques are available?

CT scan of the chest without contrast

V. Describe the advantages and disadvantages of the alternative techniques for diagnosis atelectasis.

CT scan of the chest without contrast

Advantages

  • Gold standard in evaluating for atelectasis

  • May evaluate for any underlying pathology such as a mass or pneumonia that may be leading to secondary atelectasis

  • Can better detail the anatomic location of atelectasis for treatment purposes

Disadvantages

  • Exposes patients to larger amounts of ionizing radiation than plain radiography

  • Less portable than plain radiography

VI. What are the contraindications for the alternative imaging techniques?

CT scan of the chest without contrast

May be contraindicated in pregnant patients

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