Bronchiectasis : Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors

Alternate Names : Acquired bronchiectasis, Congenital bronchiectasis

Definition

Bronchiectasis is destruction and widening of the large airways.

  • If the condition is present at birth, it is called congenital bronchiectasis.
  • If it develops later in life, it is called acquired bronchiectasis.

Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors

Bronchiectasis is often caused by recurrent inflammation or infection of the airways. It most often begins in childhood as a complication from infection or inhaling a foreign object.

Cystic fibrosis causes about half of all bronchiectasis in the United States. Recurrent, severe lung infections (pneumonia, tuberculosis, fungal infections), abnormal lung defenses, and obstruction of the airways by a foreign body or tumor are some of the risk factors.

The condition can also be caused by routinely breathing in food particles while eating.

Pictures & Images

Lungs

The major features of the lungs include the bronchi, the bronchioles and the alveoli. The alveoli are the microscopic blood vessel-lined sacks in which oxygen and carbon dioxide gas are exchanged.

Respiratory system

Respiratory system

Air is breathed in through the nasal passageways, travels through the trachea and bronchi to the lungs.


Review Date : 5/21/2009
Reviewed By : Allen J. Blaivas, D.O., Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School, Newark, NJ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

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