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Lobar Emphysema

What is lobar emphysema?

Lobar emphysema is a congenital condition where one or more lobes of the lung become hyperinflated, leading to compression of surrounding lung tissue and potentially impairing respiratory function. It is often caused by a structural abnormality in the bronchial tree or lung tissue, resulting in air trapping and overexpansion of affected lobes.

What causes lobar emphysema?

The exact cause of lobar emphysema is not always clear, but it is thought to result from developmental abnormalities in the lung tissue or bronchial tree during fetal development. Possible causes may include:

  • Anomalies in bronchial cartilage or tissue development

  • Congenital bronchial stenosis or obstruction

  • Genetic factors or familial predisposition

What are the symptoms of lobar emphysema?

Symptoms of lobar emphysema can vary depending on the severity and location of the affected lobes but may include:

  • Respiratory distress, particularly in infants

  • Rapid or laboured breathing

  • Cyanosis (bluish discolouration of the skin)

  • Wheezing or crackling sounds during breathing

  • Difficulty feeding or poor weight gain in infants

  • Recurrent respiratory infections

How to treat lobar emphysema?

Treatment for lobar emphysema aims to relieve symptoms, improve respiratory function, and prevent complications.

Options may include:

  • Observation and supportive care: Mild cases of lobar emphysema may not require immediate intervention and can be monitored closely for any changes in symptoms or lung function.

  • Oxygen therapy: Supplemental oxygen may be provided to alleviate respiratory distress and improve oxygenation.

  • Bronchodilator medications: Inhaled bronchodilators may help to relieve airway obstruction and improve airflow in some cases.

  • Surgical intervention: Severe or symptomatic cases of lobar emphysema may require surgical resection of the affected lobe(s) to relieve compression on surrounding lung tissue and improve respiratory function.



Treatment decisions are made on a case-by-case basis and depend on factors such as the severity of symptoms, presence of complications, and overall health of the individual affected by lobar emphysema. Consulting with a paediatric pulmonologist or thoracic surgeon is essential for proper evaluation and management.

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