Respiratory pathophysiology | BSAVA Library

Respiratory pathophysiology

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The respiratory system is designed to deliver atmospheric oxygen to the body and to remove the waste product of metabolism, carbon dioxide. It achieves this by using a bellows system to draw air into the alveoli and gas exchange mechanisms to transfer oxygen into the primary venous capillaries. Carbon dioxide is then transferred from the pulmonary arterial circulation to the alveoli and expelled into the atmosphere during expiration by the inherent elastic recoil of the lungs. The following topics are considered: Respiratory cycle; Respiratory mechanics; Pulmonary ventilation; and Airway and lung protective mechanisms.

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Image of 14.1
14.1 Lung volume divisions. Tidal volume (TV) is the amount of air that enters the lung with each breath. Inspiratory capacity (IC) is the maximal volume that can be attained from resting lung volume. Expiratory reserve volume (ERV) is the volume that can be exhaled starting at the resting end-expiratory point. The residual volume (RV) is that volume that cannot be exhaled from the lung. The functional residual capacity (FRC) is the combination of the ERV and RV, and is the resting volume during normal tidal breathing.
Image of 14.2
14.2 Recoil forces on the lung and chest wall. The elastic forces of the lung have a tendency to make the lung return to its minimal volume, whilst the chest wall has a tendency to recoil outwards. The balance between the opposing recoil forces of lung and chest wall allows the lung to empty adequately during expiration but prevents lung collapse. In addition, preventing the lung from collapsing facilitates lung re-expansion during inspiration. Drawn by S.J. Elmhurst BA Hons ( and reproduced with her permission
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