Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome Anatomy

To better understand adult respiratory distress syndrome, it helps to understand the anatomy of the lungs.

Inside the chest, the windpipe, or trachea, divides into two smaller tubes: the right bronchus and the left bronchus. The right bronchus enters the right lung and the left bronchus enters the left lung. The right bronchus and left bronchus branch into smaller and smaller tubes.

The smallest tubes, called bronchioles, end in tiny air sacs, called alveoli. Blood flows very close to the walls of the alveoli. Oxygen and carbon dioxide pass between the air and the bloodstream through the wall of the alveoli.

Anatomy examples:

  • The lung and airways
  • The bronchioles and alveoli
  • The lungs
  • Pulmonary vessels

Last Updated: Nov 1, 2008 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome References
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  2. Bernard GR, Artigas A, Brigham KL: The American-European Consensus Conference on ARDS. Definitions, mechanisms, relevant outcomes, and clinical trial coordination. Am J Respir Crit Care Med 1994 Mar; 149(3 Pt 1): 818-24. [7509706]
  3. Booth CM, Stewart TE. Severe acute respiratory syndrome and critical care medicine: the Toronto experience. Crit Care Med. 2005 Jan;33(1 Suppl):S53-60. [15640680]
  4. Ketai LH, Godwin JD: A new view of pulmonary edema and acute respiratory distress syndrome. J Thorac Imaging 1998 Jul; 13(3): 147-71. [9671417]
  5. Lionetti V, Recchia FA, Ranieri VM. Overview of ventilator-induced lung injury mechanisms. Curr Opin Crit Care. 2005 Feb;11(1):82-6. [15659950]
  6. Mendez JL, Hubmayr RD. New insights into the pathology of acute respiratory failure. Curr Opin Crit Care. 2005 Feb;11(1):29-36. [15659942]
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