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Bronchial tree and alveoli

Learning objectives 

This study unit will help you to: 

  1. Name the main anatomical structures that comprise the bronchial tree. 
  2. Master the branching of the bronchial tree. 
  3. Recognize and distinguish the main features of each part of the bronchial tree.

Watch video

Bronchial tree is the term used to describe the branching tubular structure conducting air between the trachea and the lungs. It comprises bronchi and bronchioles, which open into alveoli. Based on their size, function and histological structure, there are three types of bronchi including primary (main) bronchi, secondary (lobar) bronchi and tertiary (segmental) bronchi.

The smallest branches of the segmental bronchi are called bronchioles. Some bronchioles end in small sacs known as alveoli which are the site of gaseous exchange between the blood and the lungs. The main function of the bronchial tree is to provide a passageway for air to move into and out of each lung. In addition, the mucous membrane of these airways protects the lungs by capturing debris and pathogens.

This video tutorial will provide you with an overview of the bronchi, bronchioles and alveoli.

Take a quiz

Now that you have watched the video about the elements of the bronchial tree, test your knowledge with our quiz.

Or perhaps you would prefer to test yourself on the entire lungs? We’ve got you covered! Now you can create your own custom quiz and choose your own topics.

Browse atlas

Now you can observe each structure of the bronchial tree and alveoli in the image gallery below.


Key points about the bronchial tree and alveoli
Definition Bronchial tree is a term used to describe the multiple bronchi that conduct air from the trachea to alveoli
Branching Main (primary) bronchi
Lobar (secondary) bronchi
Segmental (tertiary) bronchi
Terminal bronchioles
Respiratory bronchioles
Alveolar duct
Alveolar sac
Function Airway conduction, protection against pathogens and debris

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