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Keywords:

  • compression atelectasis;
  • hypoventilation;
  • PEEP;
  • ventilation

Abstract

Objective

To describe sudden onset of generalized pulmonary atelectasis following thoracic lavage in 3 dogs.

Series Summary

Thoracic lavage was performed following ligation of a patent ductus arteriosus in case 1, prior to closure of a large traumatic full thickness wound in the chest wall in case 2, and during investigation of an idiopathic spontaneous pneumothorax in case 3. In each case anesthesia and surgery were uneventful until thoracic lavage was performed, after which sudden generalized pulmonary atelectasis was observed. The atelectasis was visualized and was associated with oxyhemoglobin desaturation, decreased end-tidal carbon dioxide partial pressure (ETCO2), and a marked increase in the peak inspiratory pressure (PIP) required to achieve visible lung inflation. Occlusion of the endotracheal tube and cervical trachea was directly eliminated as the cause of atelectasis in cases 1 and 2, and indirectly eliminated in case 3. Improvement in pulmonary function occurred in all cases in response to increased PIP ± positive end expiratory pressure (PEEP).

New or Unique Information Provided

Generalized atelectasis should be considered a possible complication of thoracic lavage performed during thoracotomy. In the cases presented here, it is suspected that pre-existing reduction in lung volume (due to inadequate ventilation, surgical compression, absorption atelectasis) was exacerbated by the addition of the lavage fluid to the thoracic cavity. This pre-existing lung collapse is believed to have resulted in reduction of lung volume and that further reduction below the critical closing volume occurred following instillation of saline into the thorax resulting in the subsequent development of generalized atelectasis. The performance of regular arterial blood gas analyses and different ventilation protocols may have prevented the marked atelectasis that was observed in these cases.