Merck Manual

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Other Types of Respiratory Failure

By

Bhakti K. Patel

, MD, University of Chicago

Last full review/revision Mar 2020| Content last modified Mar 2020
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Perioperative respiratory failure is usually caused by atelectasis (collapse of lung tissue with loss of volume). (See also Overview of Mechanical Ventilation.)

Effective means of preventing or treating atelectasis include

  • Incentive spirometry

  • Ensuring adequate analgesia for chest and abdominal incisions

  • Upright positioning

  • Early mobilization

Atelectasis caused by abdominal distention should be alleviated according to the cause (eg, nasogastric suction for excessive intraluminal air, paracentesis to evacuate tense ascites).

Hypoperfusion, regardless of cause, may result in respiratory failure through inadequate delivery of oxygen to respiratory muscles coupled with excess respiratory muscle load (eg, acidosis, sepsis). Mechanical ventilation is useful for diverting blood flow from overworked respiratory muscles to critical organs such as the brain, kidney, and gut.

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NOTE: This is the Professional Version. CONSUMERS: Click here for the Consumer Version
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