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For further information, see CMDT Part 9-04: Disorders of the Lower Airways

Key Features

  • Causes include

    • Airway secretions

    • Aspirated secretions or gastric contents

    • Foreign body

    • Bronchomalacia

    • Airway tumor

    • Extrinsic compression by mass, lymph node or blood vessel

  • Recurrent pneumonia in the same location or slow resolution (> 3 mo) of a pulmonary opacity suggests obstruction

Clinical Findings

  • Dyspnea, cough, wheezing, and pulmonary infection may occur

  • Radiographs may show

    • Atelectasis

    • Postobstructive infiltrates

    • Air trapping

  • CT scan may demonstrate the nature and exact location of obstruction


  • Bronchoscopy is required for definitive diagnosis


  • Treatment of infection, if present

  • Definitive treatment depends on the cause of the obstruction

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