Human Organ Systems – Respiratory System (Pharynx, Larynx, Trachea, Bronchi, Lungs and Diaphragm)
In humans and other animals, for example, the anatomical features of the respiratory system include airways, lungs, and the respiratory muscles. Molecules of oxygen and carbon dioxide are passively exchanged, by diffusion, between the gaseous external environment and the blood. This exchange process occurs in the alveolar region of the lungs.
Other animals, such as insects, have respiratory systems with very simple anatomical features, and in amphibians even the skin plays a vital role in gas exchange. Plants also have respiratory systems but the directionality of gas exchange can be opposite to that in animals. The respiratory system in plants also includes anatomical features such as holes on the undersides of leaves known as stomata.
The human pharynx (plural: pharynges) is the part of the throat situated immediately posterior to (behind) the mouth and nasal cavity, and cranial, or superior, to the oesophagus, larynx, and trachea. The human pharynx is conventionally divided into three sections: the nasopharynx (epipharynx), the oropharynx (mesopharynx), and the laryngopharynx (hypopharynx). The pharynx is part of the digestive system and also the respiratory system; it is also important in vocalization.
The larynx (plural larynges), commonly called the voice box, is an organ in the neck of mammals involved in protecting the trachea and sound production. It manipulates pitch and volume. The larynx houses the vocal folds, which are an essential component of phonation. The vocal folds are situated just below where the tract of the pharynx splits into the trachea and the oesophagus.
In tetrapod anatomy the trachea, or windpipe, is a tube that connects the pharynx or larynx to the lungs, allowing the passage of air. It is lined with pseudostratified ciliated columnar epithelium cells with goblet cells which produce mucus. This mucus lines the cells of the trachea to trap inhaled foreign particles which the cilia then waft upwards towards the larynx and then the pharynx where it can either be swallowed into the stomach or expelled as phlegm.
Despite the name, not all vertebrates have a trachea, only non-fish. The name is used in contrast with invertebrate trachea, a structure in arthropod anatomy.
A bronchus (plural bronchi, adjective bronchial) is a passage of airway in the respiratory tract that conducts air into the lungs. No gas exchange takes place in this part of the lungs.
The lung (adjectival form: pulmonary) is the essential respiration organ in many air-breathing animals, including most tetrapods, a few fish and a few snails. In mammals and the more complex life forms, the two lungs are located in the chest on either side of the heart. Their principal function is to transport oxygen from the atmosphere into the bloodstream, and to release carbon dioxide from the bloodstream into the atmosphere. This exchange of gases is accomplished in the mosaic of specialized cells that form millions of tiny, exceptionally thin-walled air sacs called alveoli.
To completely explain the anatomy of the lungs, it is necessary to discuss the passage of air through the mouth to the alveoli. Once air progresses through the mouth or nose, it travels through the oropharynx, nasopharynx, the larynx, the trachea, and a progressively subdividing system of bronchi and bronchioles until it finally reaches the alveoli where the gas exchange of carbon dioxide and oxygen takes place.
The drawing and expulsion of air (ventilation) is driven by muscular action; in early tetrapods, air was driven into the lungs by the pharyngeal muscles via buccal pumping, whereas in reptiles, birds and mammals a more complicated musculoskeletal system is used.
Medical terms related to the lung often begin with pulmo-, from the Latin pulmonarius ("of the lungs"), or with pneumo- (from Greek "lung").
In the anatomy of mammals, the thoracic diaphragm, or simply the diaphragm (Ancient Greek: diáphragma "partition"), is a sheet of internal muscle that extends across the bottom of the rib cage. The diaphragm separates the thoracic cavity (heart, lungs & ribs) from the abdominal cavity and performs an important function in respiration. A diaphragm in anatomy can refer to other flat structures such as the urogenital diaphragm or pelvic diaphragm, but "the diaphragm" generally refers to the thoracic diaphragm. Other vertebrates such as amphibians and reptiles have diaphragms or diaphragm-like structures, but important details of the anatomy vary, such as the position of lungs in the abdominal cavity.
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