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The Respiratory System

This week in our organ system section we are going to take a look at the respiratory system This ties in very close to the system we just finished taking a look at – the cardiovascular. Both systems work in unison to ensure the body is a well-functioning machine.

There are many parts to the respiratory system. The upper respiratory tract is made up of tubes transporting air in and out of the lungs, this air comes from the oropharynx and nasopharynx. As the air travels inwards towards the lungs it is warmed, purified, and humidified. So, the oropharynx and nasopharynx bring air into the body, this travels down the windpipe – the trachea. The trachea is kept open with ‘C’ shaped rings of cartilage (which you will be able to dissect for yourself at our shows!). The trachea then bifurcates before splitting into either lung. This bifurcation is called the carina and it is the first anatomical landmark to be named after a woman. We then have our left and right bronchi which enter the lungs.

We have two lungs. The right lung has three lobes, the superior, middle, and inferior lobes, and these lobes are separated by fissures. The left lung has two main lobes the superior and inferior. It lacks a third major lobe due to the positioning of the heart. There is a lot of branching within our lungs from our primary to secondary to tertiary bronchioles. There are also the minuscule alveoli which are responsible for gas exchange. This process also aids in maintaining the acid-base balance of the blood. We will be taking a greater look at the anatomy of breathing when we continue with our respiratory system next Wednesday – it’s a bit more complicated than you may think!

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