Acute massive atelectasis of the lung was accurately described in 1890 by Pasteur.1 The studies of Bradford2 in connection with war wounds were largely responsible for the renewal of interest in this subject. Numerous and important contributions have appeared in the literature in the last five years.
Acute massive atelectasis of the lung usually occurs after abdominal operations or thoracic traumas. The nonsurgical and nontraumatic occurrence of acute massive atelectasis of the lung as a complication has been described in such diseases and conditions as diphtheria,1 acute meningitis,3 poliomyelitis,4 pneumonia,5 acute6 and chronic7 suppurations of the lung, carcinoma,8 pulmonary tuberculosis,9 aneurysm of the aorta,10 intrabronchial tumor,11 foreign body in the bronchus12 and hyperplasia of the thymus.13
The etiology of acute massive atelectasis of the lung is obscure. Some evidence is available as to the pathogenesis.