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Respiratory System


thin-walled microscopic air sacs - hardest working structures - where the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide takes place

apneustic center

area in the lower pons in the brain with input to the medullary inspiratory neurons; helps to control the inspiratory rate of respiration


small tubes that branch off the bronchi that contain clusters of alveoli at each end.

chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

AKA: COPD, any persistent lung disease that obstructs the bronchial airflow, such as asthma, chronic bronchitis, and emphysema - occurs by smoking


The major muscle of breathing, anatomic point of separation between the thoracic cavity and the abdomen. Has (3) three major openings for:
Aortic, Esophageal, and the inferior vena cava - stimulated by the PHRENIC nerve


Occurs in conjunction with COPD - it is an obstructive pulmonary disease characterized by overexpansion of the alveoli with air, with destructive changes in their walls resulting in loss of lung elasticity and gas exchange - caused mostly from smoking


lid-like structure that covers the larynx during swallowing to prevent food from entering the airway


the process of taking in oxygen from inhaled air and releasing carbon dioxide by exhalation - the bodily process of inhalation and exhalation

expiration center

Exhalation, occurs when the respiratory muscles relax and results in the output of air from the lungs

external nares

nostrils: which open into the nasal cavity; where air enters and exits the respiratory system.

external respiration

exchange of gases between the air that has been inhaled into the ALVEOLI and the BLOOD in the PULMONARY CAPILLARIES


is a collection of blood in the space between the chest wall and the lung the pleural cavity - The most common cause of hemothorax is chest trauma. It can also occur in patients who have:
• A defect of blood clotting
• Death of lung tissue (pulmonary infarction)
• Lung or pleural cancer
• Placement of a central venous catheter
• Thoracic or heart surgery
• Tuberculosis

inspiration center

Rhythmic impulses located in the Medulla controls inhalation - the intake of air into the lungs - Inhibited by apneustic center

Hering-Breuer reflex

A protective mechanism that terminates inhalation, thus preventing overexpansion of the lungs.

internal intercostal muscles

11 Expiratory muscles - located underneath the external muscles, depress (downward and backwards) the rib cage when contracted - in an oblique fashion

external intercostal muscles

11 muscles that raise the lungs during inspiration, increasing size of thoracic cavity - located closest to skin


AKA: voice box; it is the passageway for air - connecting the pharynx to the trachea, and also contains the vocal cords - made up of 3 single cartilages called the: thyroid, cricoid, and epiglottic - and also 3 paired cartilages called the: arytenoid, corniculate, and cuneiform.


Basic units of the lungs - they are smaller compartments in the lungs that contain lymphatic vessels, veins, arteries, and branchings of alveoli


two spongy organs, located on either side of the sternum - in the thoracic cavity enclosed by the diaphragm and rib cage, responsible for respiration. Right lung is divided into three sections and Left lung into two sections.

nasal cavities

filters, moistens and warms, lined with cilia and mucous membrane.

nasal cochae

causes air to become turbulent which increases the time the air is in the nasal cavity which gives it more time to warm/humidify. Consists of inferior, middle, superior

nasal musoca

lining of the nasal cavities that are made of Ciliated Epithelium - containing Goblet cells - that produce mucus.

nasal septum

the partition that divides the nasal cavity into two sections, the dividing wall between the two nasal cavities. Formed posteriorly of bone (mainly the vomer and perpendicular plate of the ethmoid), anteriorly of cartilage.

olfactory organ

In the olfactory part of the vestibule
Contains receptors for smell
Extends downward from roof of each nasal cavity over septum and superior turbinate bone
epithelium = olfacatory = pseudostratified columnar

paranasal sinuses

Their names indicate location: specifically they are the: sphenoid, ethmoid, maxillary, and frontal sinuses - they surround the nasal cavity and make the skull lighter; they also serve as resonance chambers for speech


AKA: throat - it is the muscular tube at the end of the gastrovascular cavity that connects the mouth with the rest of the digestive tract - and serves as a passageway for air and food - innervateed by the glossopharyngeal nerve (IX) - for he swallowing & saliva production. Divided into three different sections named based on location: NASO, ORO, and LARYNGO - PHARYNX

pleural cavity

the space within the thorax that contains the lungs and pleural membranes

pneumotaxic center

respiratory center in pons. interrupts action of apneuistic center, which contributes to exhilation


abnormal presence of air in the pleural cavity resulting in the collapse of the lung

primary bronchi

the trachea bifucates into the right and left primary bronchi, which each enter the hilum of the corresponding sides of the lung and further subdivide to supply eah lobe section - AKA: branch tree.

pulmonary edema

Accumulation of extravascular fluid in lung tissues and alveoli, caused most commonly by congestive heart failure

pulmonary surfactant

mixture of lipids & proteins secreted by the type II alveolar cells. it intersperses between the water molecules & lowers alveolar surface tension
increases pulmonary compliance & reduces the lungs' tendency to recoil
reduces the surface tension of small alveoli more than that of larger alveoli

recurrent laryngeal nerve

1. branch off of the vagus nerve
2. between trachea and esophagus
3. terminates in the larynx
4. under aorta on the left and under the subclavian artery on the right
5. innervates the esophagus and trachea as well as parasympathetic innervation to the tracheal glands
6. ends as the inferior laryngeal nerve
7. distributed to all the larynx muscles EXCEPT the Cricothyroid.

Sellick's Manuever

common term for applied cricoid pressure - is performed to minimize the possibility of regurgitation and pulmonary aspiration of gastric contents during tracheal intubation

superior laryngeal nerve

external branch does motor to the cricothyroid. internal branch pierces the thyrohyoid membrane to enter the larynx. it does sensory to mucosa of the larynx superior to vocal folds. irritation of this mucosa can initiate the cough reflex - if damaged can result in loss of high-pitched vocal tones

tension pneumothorax

A life-threatening collection of air within the pleural space; the volume and pressure have both collasped the involved lung and caused a shift of the mediastinal structures to the opposite side. AKA: mediastinal shift - which is life threatening and may require a chest tube or sugery


AKA: the windpipe; which is the main air tube leading into the lungs. The trachea is composed of alternating "C ringed-shaped" cartilage, and connective tissue. The walls between are flexible, and that design makes it possible for it to adjust to different body positions

vagus nerve

This is the name for cranial nerve X - provides sensory and motor fibers for pharynx, larynx, and viscera

vocal cords

These structures are anchored to the arytenoid cartilages of the larynx. They are spread apart to facilitate breathing, but when they are closed they vibrate as air passes over them. This results in sound production. The sound is modified by the tongue to produce words.


AKA: breathing - the movement of air in and out of the lungs

cellular respiration

the use of oxygen by the cells, and the subsequent production of carbon dioxide as the "waste gas", that must be expelled from the body

upper respiratory system

consists of nose, nasal cavity, paranasal sinuses, and pharynx.

lower respiratory system

includes the: larynx, trachea, bronchi, bronchioles (lungs), alveolar ducts and sacs (lungs), alveoli (lungs)

goblet cells

Mucus secreting cells in mucous membranes, columnar epithelial cells that contain a large vacuole with mucus

Earth's Oxygen Atmosphere

Dry air contains roughly - by volume - 78.09% Nitrogen, and 20.95% Oxygen.

endotracheal intubation

the passage of a tube through the nose or mouth into the trachea to establish or maintain an open airway


the visual examination of the bronchi using a bronchoscope

esophageal hiatus

hole in which the esophagus travels through the diaphragm to get to the stomach. It's a pronounced ring that can be torn or stretched.


minimally invasive surgery of the thoracic cavity; also referred to as video assisted thoracoscopic surgery or VATS - performed to obtain tissue biopsies of: lungs, mediastinal lymph nodes, or pleura


inspiration - the act of breathing in


exhalation - , the process of breathing out


the process of inhaling - is at a 1 to 2 ratio over expiration

exchange of gases

Occurs along the alveolar space across the respiratory membrane by diffusion.
3 factors that influence the rate of diffusion of oxygen and CO2 through the respiratory membrane are:
Partial pressure gradient of O2 and CO2
Area and thickness of the respiratory membrane - larger the area faster the rate of diffusion; thicker the membrane slower the rate of diffusion.
Solubility of the respiratory gases - higher the solubility, faster the rate of diffusion


the process by which molecules move from an area of higher concentration to an area of lower concentration

pulse oximeter

an external monitor placed on the patient's finger or earlobe to measure the oxygen saturation level in the blood

lung capacity

the volume of air in the lungs - inhaled and exhaled during - normal respiration.


acute infection and inflammation in the lungs, caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi, or parasites, or resulting from aspiration of chemicals - that impairsa the normal exchange of gases

chest tubes

following a cardiothoracic surgical procedure. It is a tube inserted to restore negative pressure to chest cavity for pneumothorax, chemothorax and pleural effusion

Surgical Technolgist specific procedures

wedge resection
pneumonectomy (with or without lung transplant)


inspection of body organs or cavities using a lighted scope that may be inserted through an existing opening or through a small incision

lamina propria

Layer of connective tissue underlying the epithelium of skin or a mucous membrane.

thyroid cartilage

largest cartilage of larynx; Adam's apple. It is sometimes described as plow or shield shaped. It forms part of the walls of the glottis and is the insertion for the sternothyroid muscle


High blood pH (above 7.45) is called alkalosis. Severe alkalosis (when blood pH is more than 8) can also lead to death, as it often happens during last days or hours of life in most people who are chronically and terminally ill.


Blood pH that drops below 7.0, can lead to a coma - and even death - due to severe acidosis

traumatic pneumothorax

results from injury, typically blunt force or penetrating trauma that disrupts the parietal or visceral pleura - typically occurs from knife wounds, gun shots.

cricoid cartilage

The ring shaped structure that forms the lower portion of the larynx.

Danger Areas during Hiatus surgery

Such as Hiatal hernia repair

bronchial glands

produce water which is released onto the surface of the airways and the water is used to control the visocity of the mucus

respiratory epithelium

A mucous membrane that lines the entire respiratory tract - which are Ciliated Pseudostratified Columnar epithelium - containing goblet cells - they help transport mucus

parietal pleura

the outer layer of the pleura that lines the walls of the thoracic cavity, covers the diaphragm, and forms the sac containing each lung

visceral pleura

Lines the surface of the lung and follows the contours of the lung itself


inflammation of the pleura of the lungs (especially the parietal layer)

pleural effusion

accumulation of fluid within the pleural cavity

zero pressure

pressure in thoracic cavity is equal to atmospheric pressure

negative pressure

756 mmHg below atmospheric pressure where serous fluid causes visceral and pleural space to adhere to each other

positive pressure

Any rise above normal atmospheric pressure. Hyperbaric chambers for oxygen therapy & autoclaves, which use steam pressure for sterilization, are ex of equip using positive pressure.

muscles of inspiration

* Diaphragm
* External intercostals

muscles of expiration

* Abdominal muscles
* Internal intercostals


AKA: black lung cancer - lung disease often found in coal miners in which lung tissue becomes black due to breathing black dust


breathe - as in ex/spir/a/tion


again - as in re/generate


breath out - as in ex/hale


out - as in exo/crine


in, into, not - as in in/formation

oxo or oxia


carbonic acid

a weak acid that forms when water mixes with carbon dioxide from air


an abnormally rapid rate of respiration, usually >20 breaths per minute

thorax or thorac/o

pleural cavity, chest


this pleural membrane cover the middle area - trachea, esophagus, bronchia


normal relaxed breathing

rhino or naso

nose - as in rhino/plasty


throat; pharynx - as in pharyg/o/logist


the vocal apparatus of the larynx


inflammation of the mucous membrane of the larynx


a surgical operation that creates an opening into the trachea with a tube inserted to provide a passage for air


pus - as in trache/o/py/o/sis


black - as in melano/cyte


fungus - as in pneumon/o/myc/o/sis


surgical puncture to remove fluid - as in amnio/centesis


breathing - as in a/pnea


no, not, without, or absence - as in a/phonia


sound or voice - as in a/phonia


flow or discharge - as in gon/o/rrhea


bursting forth of blood - hem/o/rragia


process of visual examination - as in end/o/scopy


abnormal condition; increase (used primarily with blood cells)


bad, painful, difficult, abnormal


new opening


Difficulty breathing


inflammation of the lungs


hemorrhage of the trachea


fungal infection of the lung


removal of fluid from the chest by centesis for diagnostic or therapeutic purposes


coughing up blood from the respiratory tract


creation of an artificial opening into the larynx


visual examination of the bronchi

chest X-ray

An X-ray image of the thoracic cavity used to diagnose TB, tumors, and other lung conditions; also called chest radiograph


acute contagious infection caused by the bacterium Corynebacterium diphtheriae


infection transmitted by inhalation or ingestion of tubercle bacilli and manifested in fever and small lesions (usually in the lungs but in various other parts of the body in acute stages)

upper respiratory infection

URI, infectious disease of the upper respiratory tract involving the nasal passages, pharynx, and bronchi


(aka rhinitis or nasopharyngitis) Inflammation of the nasal mucosa, often caused by a viral infection AKA: the common cold.


inflammation of the nose


inflammation of the nose and pharynx

tracheal rings

C shaped rings of cartilage that prevent the compression of the windpipe

bronchial tree

branched airways that lead from the trachea to the alveoli

pressure gradient

The difference in pressure between two locations, causing air to move as wind from areas of high pressure to low pressure.

cystic fibrosis

a human genetic disorder caused by a recessive allele for a chloride channel protein; characterized by an excessive secretion of mucus and consquent vulnerability to infection; fatal if untreated (4% whites are carriers - most common lethal genetic disease)


A type of pneumoconiosis that develops from the collection of coal dust in the lung. Also called black lung or miner's lung.


Type of pneumoconiosis, caused by asbestos particles in the lungs and is found in workers from the ship building and construction trades


bronchus, bronchi


larynx or voice box




pharynx or throat


sound, voice






lungs; air


lung; pulmonary


sleep; dream




abnormally fast


thorax or chest


Trachea; windpipe


lack of oxygen


the form of pneumoconios caused by coal dust in the lungs; also known as black lung disease


Drug that suppresses the cough reflex


absence of voice


cessation of breathing

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