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RespiratorySystem|InteractiveAnatomyGuide

RespiratorySystem
Thecellsofthehumanbodyrequireaconstantstreamofoxygentostayalive.Therespiratorysystemprovidesoxygentothebodys
cellswhileremovingcarbondioxide,awasteproductthatcanbelethalifallowedtoaccumulate.Thereare3majorpartsofthe
respiratorysystem:theairway,thelungs,andthemusclesofrespiration.Theairway,whichincludesthenose,mouth,pharynx,
larynx,trachea,bronchi,andbronchioles,carriesairbetweenthelungsandthebodysexterior.Thelungs...
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LOWERRESPIRATORYTRACT
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Mouth(/image_digeov/dige28new.html)

Nose,SinusesandSmell
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MaxillarySinus
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FullRespiratorySystemDescription
[Continuedfromabove]...actasthefunctionalunitsoftherespiratorysystembypassingoxygenintothebodyandcarbondioxide
outofthebody.Finally,themusclesofrespiration,includingthediaphragmandintercostalmuscles,worktogethertoactasa
pump,pushingairintoandoutofthelungsduringbreathing.

AnatomyoftheRespiratorySystem
NoseandNasalCavity
Thenoseandnasalcavity(http://www.innerbody.com/anim/nasal.html)formthemainexternalopeningfortherespiratorysystemandare
thefirstsectionofthebodysairwaytherespiratorytractthroughwhichairmoves.Thenoseisastructureofthefacemadeof
cartilage,bone,muscle,andskinthatsupportsandprotectstheanteriorportionofthenasalcavity.Thenasalcavityisahollow
spacewithinthenoseandskull(http://www.innerbody.com/image_skelbov/skel06_new_bov.html)thatislinedwithhairsandmucusmembrane.
Thefunctionofthenasalcavityistowarm,moisturize,andfilterairenteringthebodybeforeitreachesthelungs.Hairsandmucus

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liningthenasalcavityhelptotrapdust,mold,pollenandotherenvironmentalcontaminantsbeforetheycanreachtheinner
portionsofthebody.Airexitingthebodythroughthenosereturnsmoistureandheattothenasalcavitybeforebeingexhaledinto
theenvironment.
Mouth
Themouth,alsoknownastheoralcavity(http://www.innerbody.com/anatomy/digestive/headneck/oralcavitycrosssection),isthesecondary
externalopeningfortherespiratorytract.Mostnormalbreathingtakesplacethroughthenasalcavity,buttheoralcavitycanbe
usedtosupplementorreplacethenasalcavitysfunctionswhenneeded.Becausethepathwayofairenteringthebodyfromthe
mouthisshorterthanthepathwayforairenteringfromthenose,themouthdoesnotwarmandmoisturizetheairenteringthe
lungsaswellasthenoseperformsthisfunction.Themouthalsolacksthehairsandstickymucusthatfilterairpassingthroughthe
nasalcavity.Theoneadvantageofbreathingthroughthemouthisthatitsshorterdistanceandlargerdiameterallowsmoreairto
quicklyenterthebody.
Pharynx
Thepharynx,alsoknownasthethroat,isamuscularfunnelthatextendsfromtheposteriorendofthenasalcavitytothesuperior
endoftheesophagus(http://www.innerbody.com/image_dige01/dige03new2.html)andlarynx.Thepharynxisdividedinto3regions:the
nasopharynx,oropharynx,andlaryngopharynx.Thenasopharynx(http://www.innerbody.com/image_nerv13/nerv135new.html)isthesuperior
regionofthepharynxfoundintheposteriorofthenasalcavity.Inhaledairfromthenasalcavitypassesintothenasopharynxand
descendsthroughtheoropharynx,locatedintheposterioroftheoralcavity.Airinhaledthroughtheoralcavityentersthepharynxat
theoropharynx(http://www.innerbody.com/image_mouth/card12.html).Theinhaledairthendescendsintothelaryngopharynx
(http://www.innerbody.com/anatomy/respiratory/laryngopharynx),whereitisdivertedintotheopeningofthelarynxbytheepiglottis.The
epiglottis(http://www.innerbody.com/image_digeov/dige02new2.html)isaflapofelasticcartilagethatactsasaswitchbetweenthetrachea
andtheesophagus.Becausethepharynxisalsousedtoswallowfood,theepiglottisensuresthatairpassesintothetracheaby
coveringtheopeningtotheesophagus.Duringtheprocessofswallowing,theepiglottismovestocoverthetracheatoensurethat
foodenterstheesophagusandtopreventchoking.
Larynx

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Thelarynx(http://www.innerbody.com/anatomy/respiratory/headneck/larynx),alsoknownasthevoicebox,isashortsectionoftheairway
thatconnectsthelaryngopharynxandthetrachea.Thelarynxislocatedintheanteriorportionoftheneck,justinferiortothehyoid
bone(http://www.innerbody.com/image_dige01/skel11new.html)andsuperiortothetrachea.Severalcartilagestructuresmakeupthelarynx
andgiveititsstructure.Theepiglottisisoneofthecartilagepiecesofthelarynxandservesasthecoverofthelarynxduring
swallowing.Inferiortotheepiglottisisthethyroidcartilage(http://www.innerbody.com/image_cardov/card60new.html),whichisoften
referredtoastheAdamsappleasitismostcommonlyenlargedandvisibleinadultmales.Thethyroid
(http://www.innerbody.com/image_dige01/endo04.html)holdsopentheanteriorendofthelarynxandprotectsthevocalfolds.Inferiortothe
thyroidcartilageistheringshapedcricoidcartilagewhichholdsthelarynxopenandsupportsitsposteriorend.Inadditionto
cartilage,thelarynxcontainsspecialstructuresknownasvocalfolds,whichallowthebodytoproducethesoundsofspeechand
singing.Thevocalfoldsarefoldsofmucousmembranethatvibratetoproducevocalsounds.Thetensionandvibrationspeedofthe
vocalfoldscanbechangedtochangethepitchthattheyproduce.
Trachea
Thetrachea,orwindpipe,isa5inchlongtubemadeofCshapedhyalinecartilageringslinedwithpseudostratifiedciliatedcolumnar
epithelium.Thetracheaconnectsthelarynxtothebronchiandallowsairtopassthroughtheneckandintothethorax.Theringsof
cartilagemakingupthetracheaallowittoremainopentoairatalltimes.Theopenendofthecartilageringsfacesposteriorly
towardtheesophagus,allowingtheesophagustoexpandintothespaceoccupiedbythetracheatoaccommodatemassesoffood
movingthroughtheesophagus.
Themainfunctionofthetracheaistoprovideaclearairwayforairtoenterandexitthelungs.Inaddition,theepitheliumliningthe
tracheaproducesmucusthattrapsdustandothercontaminantsandpreventsitfromreachingthelungs.Ciliaonthesurfaceofthe
epithelialcellsmovethemucussuperiorlytowardthepharynxwhereitcanbeswallowedanddigestedinthegastrointestinaltract.
BronchiandBronchioles
Attheinferiorendofthetrachea,theairwaysplitsintoleftandrightbranchesknownastheprimarybronchi.Theleftandright
bronchirunintoeachlungbeforebranchingoffintosmallersecondarybronchi.Thesecondarybronchicarryairintothelobesofthe
lungs2intheleftlungand3intherightlung.Thesecondarybronchiinturnsplitintomanysmallertertiarybronchiwithineach
lobe.Thetertiarybronchi(http://www.innerbody.com/anatomy/respiratory/tertiarybronchi)splitintomanysmallerbronchiolesthatspread
throughoutthelungs.Eachbronchiolefurthersplitsintomanysmallerbrancheslessthanamillimeterindiametercalledterminal
bronchioles.Finally,themillionsoftinyterminalbronchiolesconductairtothealveoliofthelungs.
Astheairwaysplitsintothetreelikebranchesofthebronchiandbronchioles,thestructureofthewallsoftheairwaybeginsto
change.TheprimarybronchicontainmanyCshapedcartilageringsthatfirmlyholdtheairwayopenandgivethebronchiacross
sectionalshapelikeaflattenedcircleoraletterD.Asthebronchibranchintosecondaryandtertiarybronchi,thecartilagebecomes
morewidelyspacedandmoresmoothmuscleandelastinproteinisfoundinthewalls.Thebronchiolesdifferfromthestructureof
thebronchiinthattheydonotcontainanycartilageatall.Thepresenceofsmoothmusclesandelastinallowthesmallerbronchi
andbronchiolestobemoreflexibleandcontractile.

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Themainfunctionofthebronchiandbronchiolesistocarryairfromthetracheaintothelungs.Smoothmuscletissueintheirwalls
helpstoregulateairflowintothelungs.Whengreatervolumesofairarerequiredbythebody,suchasduringexercise,thesmooth
musclerelaxestodilatethebronchiandbronchioles.Thedilatedairwayprovideslessresistancetoairflowandallowsmoreairto
passintoandoutofthelungs.Thesmoothmusclefibersareabletocontractduringresttopreventhyperventilation.Thebronchi
andbronchiolesalsousethemucusandciliaoftheirepithelialliningtotrapandmovedustandothercontaminantsawayfromthe
lungs.
Lungs
Thelungs(http://www.innerbody.com/anatomy/respiratory/lungs)areapairoflarge,spongyorgansfoundinthethoraxlateraltotheheart
(http://www.innerbody.com/image/card01.html)andsuperiortothediaphragm.Eachlungissurroundedbyapleuralmembranethatprovides
thelungwithspacetoexpandaswellasanegativepressurespacerelativetothebodysexterior.Thenegativepressureallowsthe
lungstopassivelyfillwithairastheyrelax.Theleftandrightlungsareslightlydifferentinsizeandshapeduetotheheartpointing
totheleftsideofthebody.Theleftlungisthereforeslightlysmallerthantherightlungandismadeupof2lobeswhiletheright
lunghas3lobes.
Theinteriorofthelungsismadeupofspongytissuescontainingmanycapillariesandaround30milliontinysacsknownasalveoli
(http://www.innerbody.com/image/card07.html).Thealveoliarecupshapedstructuresfoundattheendoftheterminalbronchiolesand
surroundedbycapillaries.Thealveoliarelinedwiththinsimplesquamousepitheliumthatallowsairenteringthealveolitoexchange
itsgaseswiththebloodpassingthroughthecapillaries.
MusclesofRespiration
Surroundingthelungsaresetsofmusclesthatareabletocauseairtobeinhaledorexhaledfromthelungs.Theprincipalmuscleof
respirationinthehumanbodyisthediaphragm,athinsheetofskeletalmusclethatformsthefloorofthethorax.Whenthe
diaphragmcontracts,itmovesinferiorlyafewinchesintotheabdominalcavity,expandingthespacewithinthethoraciccavityand
pullingairintothelungs.Relaxationofthediaphragmallowsairtoflowbackoutthelungsduringexhalation.
Betweentheribsaremanysmallintercostalmuscles(http://www.innerbody.com/image_chest1/chest01.html)thatassistthediaphragmwith
expandingandcompressingthelungs.Thesemusclesaredividedinto2groups:theinternalintercostalmusclesandtheexternal
intercostalmuscles.Theinternalintercostalmusclesarethedeepersetofmusclesanddepresstheribstocompressthethoracic
cavityandforceairtobeexhaledfromthelungs.Theexternalintercostalsarefoundsuperficialtotheinternalintercostalsand
functiontoelevatetheribs,expandingthevolumeofthethoraciccavityandcausingairtobeinhaledintothelungs.

PhysiologyoftheRespiratorySystem
PulmonaryVentilation
Pulmonaryventilationistheprocessofmovingairintoandoutofthelungstofacilitategasexchange.Therespiratorysystemuses
bothanegativepressuresystemandthecontractionofmusclestoachievepulmonaryventilation.Thenegativepressuresystemof
therespiratorysysteminvolvestheestablishmentofanegativepressuregradientbetweenthealveoliandtheexternalatmosphere.
Thepleuralmembranesealsthelungsandmaintainsthelungsatapressureslightlybelowthatoftheatmospherewhenthelungs
areatrest.Thisresultsinairfollowingthepressuregradientandpassivelyfillingthelungsatrest.Asthelungsfillwithair,the
pressurewithinthelungsrisesuntilitmatchestheatmosphericpressure.Atthispoint,moreaircanbeinhaledbythecontractionof
thediaphragmandtheexternalintercostalmuscles,increasingthevolumeofthethoraxandreducingthepressureofthelungs
belowthatoftheatmosphereagain.
Toexhaleair,thediaphragmandexternalintercostalmusclesrelaxwhiletheinternalintercostalmusclescontracttoreducethe
volumeofthethoraxandincreasethepressurewithinthethoraciccavity.Thepressuregradientisnowreversed,resultinginthe
exhalationofairuntilthepressuresinsidethelungsandoutsideofthebodyareequal.Atthispoint,theelasticnatureofthelungs
causesthemtorecoilbacktotheirrestingvolume,restoringthenegativepressuregradientpresentduringinhalation.
ExternalRespiration
Externalrespirationistheexchangeofgasesbetweentheairfillingthealveoliandthebloodinthecapillariessurroundingthewalls
ofthealveoli.Airenteringthelungsfromtheatmospherehasahigherpartialpressureofoxygenandalowerpartialpressureof
carbondioxidethandoesthebloodinthecapillaries.Thedifferenceinpartialpressurescausesthegasestodiffusepassivelyalong
theirpressuregradientsfromhightolowpressurethroughthesimplesquamousepitheliumliningofthealveoli.Thenetresultof
externalrespirationisthemovementofoxygenfromtheairintothebloodandthemovementofcarbondioxidefromthebloodinto
theair.Theoxygencanthenbetransportedtothebodystissueswhilecarbondioxideisreleasedintotheatmosphereduring
exhalation.
InternalRespiration
Internalrespirationistheexchangeofgasesbetweenthebloodincapillariesandthetissuesofthebody.Capillarybloodhasa
higherpartialpressureofoxygenandalowerpartialpressureofcarbondioxidethanthetissuesthroughwhichitpasses.The
differenceinpartialpressuresleadstothediffusionofgasesalongtheirpressuregradientsfromhightolowpressurethroughthe
endotheliumliningofthecapillaries.Thenetresultofinternalrespirationisthediffusionofoxygenintothetissuesandthediffusion
ofcarbondioxideintotheblood.
TransportationofGases
The2majorrespiratorygases,oxygenandcarbondioxide,aretransportedthroughthebodyintheblood.Bloodplasmahasthe
abilitytotransportsomedissolvedoxygenandcarbondioxide,butmostofthegasestransportedinthebloodarebondedto
transportmolecules.Hemoglobinisanimportanttransportmoleculefoundinredbloodcellsthatcarriesalmost99%oftheoxygen
intheblood.Hemoglobincanalsocarryasmallamountofcarbondioxidefromthetissuesbacktothelungs.However,thevast
majorityofcarbondioxideiscarriedintheplasmaasbicarbonateion.Whenthepartialpressureofcarbondioxideishighinthe
tissues,theenzymecarbonicanhydrasecatalyzesareactionbetweencarbondioxideandwatertoformcarbonicacid.Carbonicacid

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thendissociatesintohydrogenionandbicarbonateion.Whenthepartialpressureofcarbondioxideislowinthelungs,thereactions
reverseandcarbondioxideisliberatedintothelungstobeexhaled.
HomeostaticControlofRespiration
Undernormalrestingconditions,thebodymaintainsaquietbreathingrateanddepthcalledeupnea.Eupneaismaintaineduntilthe
bodysdemandforoxygenandproductionofcarbondioxiderisesduetogreaterexertion.Autonomicchemoreceptorsinthebody
monitorthepartialpressuresofoxygenandcarbondioxideinthebloodandsendsignalstotherespiratorycenterofthebrainstem.
Therespiratorycenterthenadjuststherateanddepthofbreathingtoreturnthebloodtoitsnormallevelsofgaspartialpressures.
PreparedbyTimTaylor,AnatomyandPhysiologyInstructor

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