The windpipe, or trachea, is an almost rigid organ. It is flexible enough to allow for basic motion but rigid enough to prevent collapse, even under pressure.


This 12 cm long tubular organ is about 2.5 cm in diameter. One of the trachea’s main responsibilities is to adjoin the larynx to the primary bronchi.

Extending directly into the thoracic cavity, the trachea can be found located just anterior to the esophagus.

The trachea’s support structure is derived mostly from the walls which are created from between 16 and 20 hyaline cartilages in the shape of a C.

The C shaped design of the trachea’s walls help to ensure that the trachea will not collapse. Obviously, the edge of the C shaped cartilages are open, and these open sides face the esophagus to permit the passage of food down the esophagus.

The esophagus expands when food or liquid is swallowed.


Image: Trachea


The lining of the trachea prevents the entry of hazardous particles such as dust, pollen, smoke, and other common allergens to enter the airway.

The lining, or the mucosa, is covered in pseudostratified ciliated columnar epithelial cells. These cells have goblets which secret mucous to maintain moisture. Just above and medially to the lungs, the trachea divides into the right and left bronchi.

This unification is reinforced by the carina, which is a structure which closely resembled that of the keel of a boat.
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