The airways are those parts of the
respiratory systemthrough which air flows, to get from the external environment to the alveoli.
The airway begins at the mouth or nose, and accesses the trachea via the
pharynx. The trachea branches into the left and right main bronchiat the carina, situated at the level of the second thoracic vertebra. The bronchi branch into large bronchioles, one for each lobeof the lung. Within the lobes, the bronchi further subdivide some 20 times, ending in clusters of alveoli.
The epithelial surfaces of the airways contain
cilia. Inhaled particles stick to mucus(secreted by goblet cells) which is continuously removed from the airways by these cilia. The airway epithelium also secretes a watery fluid upon which the mucus can ride freely. The production of this fluid is impaired by the disease cystic fibrosis. Macrophagesare present in the airways. These cells protect the airways from infection by engulfing inhaled particles and bacteria.
Certain conditions require tracheal intubation to secure the airway.
Airway devices are used to assist intubation.
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* [http://vam.anest.ufl.edu/airwaydevice/ The Virtual Airway Device] , a free resource about airway devices, including a video library
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