The trachea, or windpipe, is a tube the connects the pharynx or larynx to the lungs, enabling the i of air.

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Key Points

The trachea is lined v pseudostratified ciliated columnar epithelium cells with goblet cell that develop mucus. Over there are about 15 come 20 C-shaped cartilaginous rings that reinforce the anterior and lateral political parties of the trachea to protect and also maintain the airway, leaving a membranous wall surface (pars membranacea) dorsally there is no cartilage wherein the C-shape is open. The cartilaginous rings room C-shaped to permit the trachea come collapse slightly at the opened so that food can pass down the esophagus. The trachealis muscle connect the end of the open part of the C-shaped rings and also contracts during coughing, to reduce the size of the lumen that the trachea to boost the air flow rate. The stomach lies posteriorly to the trachea. The mucocilliary escalator helps protect against pathogens native entering the lungs. The trachea is component of the conducting zone and also contributes come anatomical dead space.

Key Terms

cilia: Tiny, hair-like projections indigenous a cell. mucocilliary escalator: The ladder created by mucus and also cilia in the trachea that pushes mucus up the trachea and into the pharynx to stop mucus pathogens from entering the lungs. anatomical dead space: The an are in the respiratory tract the isn’t connected in alveolar ventilation and also is part of the regular conducting zone the the respiratory tract system.


The trachea: This is the trachea in relation to the rest of the respiratory tract system.

The trachea, or windpipe, is a tube that connects the pharynx or larynx come the lungs, allowing the passage of air. It is lined through pseudostratified ciliated columnar epithelium cells through goblet cell that develop mucus. The trachea is component of the conducting zone because that air into and out the the lungs.

Anatomy that the Trachea

The trachea is a long tube that extends native the pharynx and also larynx to the bronchi the the lungs. It generally has an inside diameter of around 25.4 millimeter (1.00 in) and also a length of about 10 come 16 centimeters.

The trachea commences at the lower border of the larynx, level through the 6th cervical vertebra, and also bifurcates into the primary bronchi in ~ the vertebral level of thoracic vertebra T5, or increase to two vertebrae lower or higher, relying on breathing.

At the peak of the trachea and bottom the the larynx is the cricoid cartilage, the only complete ring that cartilage in the trachea. Expanding downward transparent the length of the pipe are about fifteen to 20 C-shaped cartilaginous rings that reinforce the external structure and also shape that the trachea—the open part of every C-shaped ring expose a membranous wall on the inside of the trachea.

Histology of the Trachea: A cross section of the trachea, showing the hyaline cartilage, mucus glands, and also ciliated epithelium.

The cartilage that the trachea is considered hyaline cartilage: simple, transparent, and made mainly of collagen. The trachealis muscle connects the open up ends that the C-shaped ring of cartilage and contracts throughout coughing, to reduce the dimension of the lumen that the trachea to boost the air circulation rate.

The stomach lies behind the trachea. The C-shaped cartilaginous rings enable the trachea come collapse slightly at that is opening, for this reason food can pass under the stomach after swallowing.

The epiglottis closes the opening to the larynx throughout swallowing to protect against swallowed issue from beginning the trachea.

Physiology the the Trachea

This mucus and also cilia the the trachea type the mucociliary escalator, i beg your pardon lines the cell of the trachea v mucus to catch inhaled international particles. The cilia then waft upward towards the larynx and also the pharynx, whereby it have the right to be either swallowed right into the stomach (and damaged by acid) or expelled together phlegm.

The mucociliary escalator is one of the most vital functions of the trachea and is also considered a barrier component of the immune mechanism due its function in preventing pathogens from entering the lungs. The epithelium and the mucociliary ladder deserve to be damaged by smoking cigarettes tobacco and also alcohol consumption, which deserve to make pneumonia (an epidemic of the alveoli of the lungs) native bacteria in the top respiratory tract more likely to occur as result of the ns of barrier function.

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As a part of the conducting zone that the lungs, the trachea is crucial in warming and moistening air prior to it will the lungs. The trachea is likewise considered a part of common anatomical dead an are (space in the airway the isn’t affiliated in alveolar gas exchange) and also its volume contributes to calculations of ventilation and physiological (total) dead space. That is not considered alveolar dead space, a ax that describes alveoli the don’t partake in gas exchange early to damage or absence of blood supply.


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