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19.4: Trachea

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    The trachea (windpipe) extends from the larynx toward the lungs (\(\PageIndex{1}\)). The trachea is formed by 16 to 20 stacked, C-shaped pieces of hyaline cartilage that are connected by dense connective tissue. The trachealis muscle and elastic connective tissue together form the fibroelastic membrane, a flexible membrane that closes the posterior surface of the trachea, connecting the C-shaped cartilages. The fibroelastic membrane allows the trachea to stretch and expand slightly during inhalation and exhalation, whereas the rings of cartilage provide structural support and prevent the trachea from collapsing. In addition, the trachealis muscle can be contracted to force air through the trachea during exhalation. The trachea is lined with pseudostratified ciliated columnar epithelium, which is continuous with the larynx. The esophagus borders the trachea posteriorly.

    The top panel of this figure shows the trachea and its organs. The major parts including the larynx, trachea, bronchi, and lungs are labeled.

    Figure \(\PageIndex{1}\): The tracheal tube is formed by stacked, C-shaped pieces of hyaline cartilage. (CC-BY-4.0, OpenStax, Human Anatomy)

    This page titled 19.4: Trachea is shared under a CC BY license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by OpenStax.

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