The two lungs are spongy and highly elastic organs of respiration in the pulmonary cavities of the thorax, where the aeration of blood occurs.
Each lung has an irregular conical shape with a blunt top, called the apex, extending into the root of the neck. They have concave bottoms resting on the arc of the diaphragm, a mostly concave inner mediastinal surface that follows the lines of the pericardium, and a convex outer (costal) surface. The right lung is larger than the left, and consists of three lobes (upper, middle, and basal or lower). The left lung consists of two lobes, an upper and a basal, or lower, lobe.
Each lung consists of an exterior plasma coat comprised of an organ coat which folds back to make an interior lining for the chest cavity. The inner lung contains sub-serous areolar tissue with elastic fibers interspersed over the surface of the organ. The parenchyma, or functional part of the organ, is composed of secondary lobules (alveolar ducts) that differentiate into primary lobules (alveoli) consisting of blood vessels, lymphatics, nerves, and an alveolar duct that connects with air space.
The lung, as it relates to inspiration and expiration, has two distinct zones in which the lung passages convey air to the alveolar sacs. The zones relate to the two functions of these passages. One is for conducting air, and the other is for respiration. The parts of the conducting zone do not participate in gas transfer, rather they convey air to and from the respiratory zone. All of the parts of the respiratory zone can take part in gas transfer. However, the uppermost branches, such as the respiratory bronchioles, participate in respiration only in times of exertion.
The conducting zone starts at the trachea and branches out to the bronchi. The bronchi differentiate into bronchioles and then into terminal bronchioles. The respiratory zone starts after the terminal bronchioles at the respiratory bronchioles. These differentiate into the alveolar ducts, which terminate at the alveolar sacs. The lungs consist mainly of the tiny air containing alveolar sacs.
Sally C. McFarlane-Parrott, The Gale Group Inc., Gale, Detroit,