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You may also use ICD codes here in order to navigate to a known ICD category. The colored squares show from where the results are found. You don’t need to remeber the colors as you may hover your mouse on these squares to read the source. The major organs of the respiratory system function primarily to provide oxygen to body tissues for cellular respiration, remove the waste product carbon dioxide, and help to maintain acid-base balance. Functionally, the respiratory system can be divided into a conducting zone and a respiratory zone. The conducting zone of the respiratory system includes the organs and structures not directly involved in gas exchange.
The gas exchange occurs in the respiratory zone. Conducting Zone The major functions of the conducting zone are to provide a route for incoming and outgoing air, remove debris and pathogens from the incoming air, and warm and humidify the incoming air. Several structures within the conducting zone perform other functions as well. The epithelium of the nasal passages, for example, is essential to sensing odors, and the bronchial epithelium that lines the lungs can metabolize some airborne carcinogens.
The Nose and its Adjacent Structures The major entrance and exit for the respiratory system is through the nose. When discussing the nose, it is helpful to divide it into two major sections: the external nose, and the nasal cavity or internal nose. The root is the region of the nose located between the eyebrows. The bridge is the part of the nose that connects the root to the rest of the nose.
While the root and bridge of the nose consist of bone, the protruding portion of the nose is composed of cartilage. As a result, when looking at a skull, the nose is missing. The nasal bone is one of a pair of bones that lies under the root and bridge of the nose. Several bones that help form the walls of the nasal cavity have air-containing spaces called the paranasal sinuses, which serve to warm and humidify incoming air.
Sinuses are lined with a mucosa. Each paranasal sinus is named for its associated bone: frontal sinus, maxillary sinus, sphenoidal sinus, and ethmoidal sinus. The sinuses produce mucus and lighten the weight of the skull. The nares and anterior portion of the nasal cavities are lined with mucous membranes, containing sebaceous glands and hair follicles that serve to prevent the passage of large debris, such as dirt, through the nasal cavity. An olfactory epithelium used to detect odors is found deeper in the nasal cavity. The epithelium contains goblet cells, one of the specialized, columnar epithelial cells that produce mucus to trap debris.
The nasopharynx is flanked by the conchae of the nasal cavity, and it serves only as an airway. At the top of the nasopharynx are the pharyngeal tonsils. A pharyngeal tonsil, also called an adenoid, is an aggregate of lymphoid reticular tissue similar to a lymph node that lies at the superior portion of the nasopharynx. The oropharynx is a passageway for both air and food. The oropharynx is bordered superiorly by the nasopharynx and anteriorly by the oral cavity. The fauces is the opening at the connection between the oral cavity and the oropharynx.
As the nasopharynx becomes the oropharynx, the epithelium changes from pseudostratified ciliated columnar epithelium to stratified squamous epithelium. The laryngopharynx is inferior to the oropharynx and posterior to the larynx. It continues the route for ingested material and air until its inferior end, where the digestive and respiratory systems diverge. The stratified squamous epithelium of the oropharynx is continuous with the laryngopharynx. Anteriorly, the laryngopharynx opens into the larynx, whereas posteriorly, it enters the esophagus.
The structure of the larynx is formed by several pieces of cartilage. Continuous with the laryngopharynx, the superior portion of the larynx is lined with stratified squamous epithelium, transitioning into pseudostratified ciliated columnar epithelium that contains goblet cells. Similar to the nasal cavity and nasopharynx, this specialized epithelium produces mucus to trap debris and pathogens as they enter the trachea. The cilia beat the mucus upward towards the laryngopharynx, where it can be swallowed down the esophagus. The trachea is formed by 16 to 20 stacked, C-shaped pieces of hyaline cartilage that are connected by dense connective tissue. The top panel of this figure shows the trachea and its organs.