Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Inhalational Injury Anatomy

To better understand toxic inhalations, 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: Jan 6, 2011 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Inhalational Injury References
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  2. do Pico GA. Toxic gas inhalation. Curr Opin Pulm Med. 1995 Mar;1(2):102-8. Review. [15786599]
  3. Dorevitch S, Forst L, Conroy L, Levy P. Toxic inhalation fatalities of US construction workers, 1990 to 1999. J Occup Environ Med. 2002 Jul;44(7):657-62. [12134529]
  4. Hauschild VD, Bratt GM. Prioritizing industrial chemical hazards. J Toxicol Environ Health A. 2005 Jun 11-25;68(11-12):857-76. [1602018]
  5. Parimon T, Kanne JP, Pierson DJ. Acute inhalation injury with evidence of diffuse bronchiolitis following chlorine gas exposure at a swimming pool. Respir Care. 2004 Mar;49(3):291-4. [14982650]
  6. Prien T, Traber DL. Toxic smoke compounds and inhalation injury--a review. Burns Incl Therm Inj. 1988 Dec;14(6):451-60. Review. [2855039]
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