Atelectasis is one of the most common abnormalities seen in chest radiography, and it is a daily diagnostic challenge. At times, atelectasis is missed, especially when pulmonary opacification is minor or nonexistent, and at other times, it is misdiagnosed as another type of intrathoracic disease, most notably pneumonia. Prolonged atelectasis is a cause for concern since it can exacerbate hypoxemia via shunting and predispose the patient to nosocomial pneumonia.

Traditionally, suctioning was used in conjunction with adjuncts such as chest physiotherapy, kinetic beds, mucolytic drug therapy, mechanical vibration therapy given via hand-held devices, and vests to treat atelectasis. Bronchoscopy is usually used as a last resort in the treatment of atelectasis.