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Synonym: windpipe
German: Trachea

1 Definition

The trachea is defined as the tubular organ that connects the larynx to the two main bronchi. The trachea forms part of the airways.

2 Anatomy

The trachea has a length of around 10-12 cm, and it marks the beginning of the lower airways. It begins at the cricoid cartilage and ends at the tracheal bifurcation. The tracheal carina is located there, a spur that splits the trachea and leads the breathable air evenly into the right and left principal bronchus.

The trachea contains 15-20 hoof-shaped cartilage rings (tracheal cartilage) of hyaline cartilage in its wall, which are interconnected with ligaments (anular ligaments of the trachea). They reinforce the wall and prevent the collapse of the trachea during in and expiration.

The cartilage rings are open to the dorsal wall of the trachea, which is also called paries membranaceus or membranous wall. This gap is bridged by fibroelastic connective tissue and fascicles of smooth muscle cells, which in their sum are called tracheal muscle. They insert at the perichondrium of the cartilage rings and can narrow the lumen of the trachea by contraction.

The inside of the trachea is covered with ciliated respiratory epithelium, which contains goblet cells and glands that secrete mucus (tracheal glands).

3 Clinical presentation

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