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Tracheal Cartilages
Respiratory System

Tracheal Cartilages

Cartilagines tracheales

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The trachea consists of 16-20 C-shaped rings of hyaline cartilage that occupy an anterolateral position in the tracheal wall. They are responsible for keeping the trachea patent for respiration to occur.

The inferior-most tracheal cartilage is located at the point where the trachea bifurcates into the right and left main bronchi. This tracheal cartilage has a distinct V-like shape and is known as the carina.

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Key Features/Anatomical Relations

Fibroelastic tissue, the tracheal annular ligaments, is interspersed between the tracheal cartilages. Posteriorly, the tracheal wall is flat and is absent of tracheal cartilages. Instead, it contains fibromuscular tissue, including the involuntary trachealis muscle (smooth muscle). The lumen of the trachea is lined by a mucosa composed of pseudostratified ciliated columnar epithelium with goblet cells. The mucosa is thrown into folds along the posterior wall where hyaline cartilage is absent.

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Tracheal Cartilage

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Tracheal cartilage, a type of hyaline cartilage, is a composite material in which the collagen fibres, essentially type II, are immersed in a hydrated proteoglycan matrix (aggrecan, versican, hyaluronane).

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