Physical Properties of the Lungs

In order for inspiration to occur, the lungs must be able to expand when stretched; they must have high compliance. In order for expiration to occur, the lungs must get smaller when this tension is released: they must have elasticity. The tendency to get smaller is also aided by surface tension forces within the alveoli.

Table 16.1 Pressure Changes in Normal,

Quiet Breathing

Inspiration

Expiration

Intrapulmonary pressure (mmHg)

-3

+3

Intrapleural pressure (mmHg)

-6

-3

Transpulmonary pressure (mmHg)

+3

+6

Note: Pressures indicate mmHg below or above atmospheric pressure.

Note: Pressures indicate mmHg below or above atmospheric pressure.

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