Archive Of Standardized Exam Questions: Atelectasis


This page is dedicated to organizing various examples of standardized exam questions whose answer is atelectasis. While this may seem a odd practice, it is useful to see multiple examples of how atelectasis will be characterized on standardized exams (namely the boards and the shelf exams). This page is not meant to be used as a tradition question bank (as all of the answers will be the same), however seeing the classic “test” characterization for a disease is quite valuable.


Question # 1

About 1 day after an uncomplicated cesarean delivery, a 25 year old woman (G1P1) has a fever. Her temperature is 100.5°F, pulse is 92/min, respirations are 17, and blood pressure is 115/75 mm Hg. Her breath sounds are decreased bilaterally, and there are no crackles or rhonci heard. Cardiac examination is unremarkable. The fundus is contender and 2 cm below the umbilicus. The incision site is clean, dry, and intact. The incision is also slightly tender to the touch. The lower extremities have 2+ pitting edema with no cyanosis or clubbing. A foley catheter is in place. What is the most likely diagnosis?

Explanation: decreased breath sounds + slight fever + no other findings = atelectasis

Question # 2

Two days after a C-section, a 25 year old woman develops a temperature of 100.7°F. She had a 9 hour labor complicated by meconium amniotic fluid. On physical examination, lung sounds are decreased bilaterally at the lung bases. Abdominal exam shows a slightly tender incision site that is clean, dry, and intact. There is a moderate amount of lochia that has no odor. Examination of the lower extremities shows edema and no tenderness. Her hemoglobin concentration is 11.0 g/dL, leukocyte count 13,500/mm³, and platelet count is 190,000/mm³. A urine catheter urinalysis is negative for any findings. What is the most likely diagnosis?

Question # 3

A 55 year old man undergoes a laparoscopic cholecystectomy after undergoing a course of biliary pancreatitis. He has a 25 pack year history of smoking. On his third post-op day he is found to have mild hypoxemia at 90% on room air. His temperature is 98.5°F, blood pressure 130/75 mm Hg, heart rate 91/min, and respirations of 21/min. A lung exam reveals decreased breath sounds at the bases. Arterial blood gas results are shown below: 

  • pH: 7.45
  • pO2: 65 mm Hg
  • pCO2: 35 mm Hg

What is the likely diagnosis in this patient? 


Page Updated: 10.18.2016