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A Patient's Guide to Lung Surgery

About Your Lungs

The lungs are the organs responsible for adding oxygen to the blood after removing the body’s carbon dioxide (CO2). The lungs are located in the chest and lie on either side of the heart. Your two lungs, which take up most of the space in your chest inside your rib cage, are divided into sections called lobes--three in the right lung and two in the left. Each lobe is made up of spongy pink tissue containing many small breathing passages, called bronchial tubes. Air flows into and out of the lungs through these tubes. Your lungs transfer oxygen to your blood and remove waste gases.

lungs and bronchial tubes

The lungs are composed of millions of tiny air sacs, known as alveoli. As a person breathes in, the alveoli are filled with fresh air. The heart pumps the blood that has been "used" by the body to the lungs. As the "used" or un-oxygenated blood passes by the alveoli, the CO2 in the blood moves into the alveoli, while the oxygen moves into the blood.

Red blood cells take up oxygen from the lungs

The newly oxygenated blood is then transported back to the heart, which pumps out the newly oxygenated blood back out to the body. The air in the alveoli, which is now oxygen depleted, is exhaled out with the exchanged CO2.

Movement of the diaphragm (a sheet of muscle separating the chest from the abdomen) causes the lungs to expand. As the lungs expand, air is drawn in. As they contract, air is forced out. When air is breathed in it is warmed, moistened, and cleansed in the nose and pharynx, then passes downward through a system of tubes in the lungs. These tubes make up the bronchial tree.



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