Gross Anatomy of the Lower Airways and Lungs Flashcards Preview

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Trachea anatomy

The trachea extends from the inferior border of the larynx at vertebral level C6/7 to bifurcation of trachea into right and left main bronchi at T4/5 (the level of the sternal angle). The trachea consist of many C-shaped cartilage rings with the trachealis muscle (smooth m) located posteriorly.


Location of the trachea in the neck

The trachea is situated in the midline, partially covered anteriorly by infrahyoid (strap) muscles and isthmus of thyroid gland. Posterior to the trachea is the oeseophagus and vertebral bodies.


Anatomic relationship between arch of aorta and trachea

The arch of aorta is located anterior and to the left of the trachea.


Trachea bifurcation

The trachea bifurcates into the main (primary) bronchi at vertebral level T4/5.


The difference between the right and left main bronchus.

The right main bronchus is more vertical and wider than the left main bronchus therefore aspirated objects are more likely to go into the right bronchus.


The carina

A cartilaginous ridge located at the bifurcation of the trachea, slightly to the left of the midline. It is particularly sensitive to irritation producing a strong cough reflex.


The thoracic cavity

Is divided into two pulmonary cavities (laterally) containing the lungs with the mediastinum, located centrally, containing the heart, great vessels, trachea, oeseophagus etc.


The pleura

A continuous seorus membrane (simple squamous epithelium and underlying CT) covering the lungs (visceral pleura) and the thoracic wall, diaphragm and mediastinum (parietal pleura). The visceral and parietal pleura are continuous at the hilum of the lung.


Pleural cavity

A potential space between visceral and parietal pleural layers containing a thin film of serous fluid. It surrounds lung but the lung is not 'in' it. The left and right pleural cavities are separate and not connected.


Pleural effusion

Excess fluid in the pleural cavity



Blood in the pleural cavity



Air in pleural cavity


Parietal pleura

Is divided into:

  • Cervical (superior)
  • Costal
  • Diaphragmatic; and
  • Mediastinal



Innervation of parietal pleura

The parietal pleura is innervated by pain fibres (but visceral pleura isn't). 

  • Inercostal nn invervate the costal and peripheral diaphragmatic pleura
  • Phrenic n (C3-5) innervates the mediastinal and central diaphragmatic pleura - pain referred ot neck, shoulder. 


Lines of pleural reflection and recess

Occur where the parietal pleura reflects from one surface to another. 

  • Costodiaphragmatic recess is located at the junction of teh costal and diaphragmatic pleura.
  • Costomediastinal recess is located at the border of the mediastinal pleural and costal pleura. 


Lung borders and surfaces

The lung has three surfaces (costal, diaphragmatic, mediastinal) an apex and three borders (anterior, posterior, inferior). 


Hilum of lungs

Also known as the 'root' of the lung. 

  • Connects the lungs to the mediastinum. 
  • The parietal and visceral pleura are coninuous at the hilum. 
  • Contains pulmonary veins, pulmonary artery, bronchus, nerves, bronchia aa vv, lymphatic vessels and nodes. 


Right lung anatomy

The right lung has three lobes (upper, middle, lower) and two fissures oblique and horizontal. 

The pulmonary a, vv and bronchus are located in the hilum with the pulmonary ligament extending inferiorly from the hilum. 


Left lung anatomy

The  left lung has two lobes separated by an oblique fissure

  • Upper: with lingual and cardiac notch
  • Lower


Lobar bronchi

The main (primary) bronchi divide into two secondary bronchi to upper and lower lobes on the left and three secondary bronchi to the upper, middle and lower lobes on the right. 


Segmental bronchi

Secondary bronchi divide into tertiary (segmental) bronchi which supply bronchopulmonary segments. Tertiary bronchi divide many times to eventually become bronchioles (lack cartilage). 


Bronchopulmonary segments

There are 10 segments on the right and 8 (or 10) on the left. 

One segmental (tertiary) bronchus and one segmental pulmonary artery supply each bronchopulmonary segment. Each bronchopulmonary segment is pyramidal in shape with the apex towards the lung hilum and the base at the pleural surface, and each segment is separated by CT. 


Pulmonary circulation

  • Right atrium
  • Right ventricle
  • Pulmonary trunk
  • Pulmonary arteries
  • Lobar arteries
  • Segmental arteries...
  • Arterioles
  • Capillaries (gas exchange)
  • Venules...
  • Pulmonary veins
  • Left atrium
  • Left ventricle


Bronchial arteries and veins

Bronchi and large bronchioles receive blood supply from the systemic circulation. 


Bronchial aa arise from the aorta or posterior intercostal a.

Bronchial veins drain into the azygous system and pulmonary veins. 


Lymphatics of the lung. 

Pulmonary (intrapulmonary) lymphatics have a diffuse distrivution, they drain into the hilar (bronchopulmonary) nodes --> carinal (inferior tracheobronchial) nodes --> superior tracheoronchial nodes --> tracheal (paratracheal) nodes --> bronchomediastinal lymph trunks to the right lymph duct or thoracic duct or directly into the brachiocephalic vein (R/L). May also drain to inferior deep cervical nodes. 


The left lower lobe drains to carinal nodes, then predominanly across the midline to the right paratracheal nodes. 


Efferent innervation of lungs

Parasympathetic: vagus (CN X).

Preganglionic cell bodies are located in the medulla of the brainstem. Ganglia are intramural - within lungs, trachea. 

Actions: bronchoconstriction, vasodilation, secretomotor to glands of bronchial tree. 


Preganglionics in T1-T5 spinal cord, synapse in sympathetic chain, postganglionic axons travel through pulmonary plexus located anterior and posterior to primary bronchi.

Actions: bronchodilator, vasocontrictor, inhibits gland of bronchial tree. 


Afferent innervation of lungs

Visceral afferents

  • Stretch, irritants: travel with vagus n to brainstem (neuron cell bodies in inferior ganglion of vagus n), pressure receptors in pulmonary aa and chemoreceptors in pulmonary vv also travel via the vagus.
  • Pain (nociceptive): travel with sympathetics to T1-T5 spinal cord, except via dorsal root (neuron cell bodies in dorsal root ganglia of T1-T5). The exception is the trachea which travels via the vagus. 



Surface anatomy apex

1-2 cm above medial 1/3 of clavicle


Surface anatom of anterior border

Deep to sternum, except cardiac notch on left (ribs 4-6)


Surface anatomy inferior border

Rib 6