Are you ready to learn all about the Anatomy and Physiology of the Respiratory System? I sure hope so because, in this study guide, we have compiled a ton of practice questions that can help you do just that. 

Also, this information correlates well with Egan’s Chapter 9 on The Respiratory System, so you can use this study guide to prepare for your exams. 

Learning this information is extremely important because it serves as the foundation for which all other courses in Respiratory Therapy School will be built upon. If you do not know and understand the anatomy and physiology of the respiratory system, it will be extremely difficult for you to learn the material for all future courses. 

So what do you say we get started and learn this stuff now? Let’s dive in!

Practice Questions About the Anatomy and Physiology of the Respiratory System:

1. What are the passageways between the ambient environment and gas exchange units of the lungs (alveoli) known as?
Conducting airways.

2. The conducting airways are divided into what?
Upper and lower airways.

3. What does the upper airway consist of?
Nose, oral cavity, pharynx, and larynx.

4. What are the functions of the upper airway?
To act as a conductor of air; to humidify cool and warm inspired air; to prevent foreign materials from entering the tracheobronchial tree; and, to serve as an important area in speech and smell.

5. What are the functions of the nose?
To filter, humidify, condition warm and cool air.

6. What does the outer portion of the nose consist of?
Bone and cartilage.

7. Does gas exchange occur in conducting airways?
No, no it does not.

8. Posteriorly, the nasal septum is formed by what?
Perpendicular plate and the ethmoid bone.

9. What forms the roof of the nasal cavity?
Nasal bones, frontal process of the maxilla and cribriform plate of the ethmoid bone.

10. What forms the posterior section of the nasal cavity?
It consists of a flexible mass of densely packed collagen fibers and soft palate.

11. What is nasal flaring?
It is the widening of the nostrils during periods of respiratory difficulty.

12. Where is stratified squamous epithelium found?
The anterior portion of the nasal cavity, oral cavity oropharynx, and laryngopharynx.

13. What is pseudostratified ciliated columnar epithelium?
These have hair like projections that extend from the outer surface (mucous-producing goblet cells). It is found two-thirds of the nasal cavity in the traceobronial tree.

14. What is simple cuboidal epithelium?
Substances of O2 and C02 passes through this tissue. These cells form the walls of the alveoli (Pulmonary capillaries that sound the alveoli).

15. What are the three bony protrusions on the lateral walls of the nasal cavity?
Superior, middle and inferior nasal turbinates or conchae.

16. What are turbinates?
Play a major role in humidification and warming of inspired air.

17. What are the two nasal passageways between the nares and the nasopharynx called?

18. What is sinusitis?
Inflammation of the mucous membrane of the one or more paranasal sinuses.

19. What patient problems can be seen regarding the soft palate and uvula?
Patients will have difficulty swallowing, sucking, blowing, and speech sounds.

20. What elevates the soft palate?
Levator veli palatine.

21. What is the oral cavity lined with?
Nonciliated stratified squamous epithelium.

22. What is the division of pharynx?
Nasopharynx, oropharynx, and laryngopharynx.

23. What is the nasopharynx lined with?
Pseudostratified ciliated columnar epithelium.

24. What is the other name of pharyngeal tonsil?

25. What happens if the pharyngeal tonsil is inflamed?
It may block the passage of air between the nose and throat.

26. What is another name for pharynx?

27. What is commonly seen in young children?
Inflammation and excessive mucus production in the pharyngotympanic tube may disrupt the pressure equalizing process with impair hearing (Otitis media and ear infection).

28. What is the vallecula epiglottica?
Important landmark during the insertion of the endotracheal tube in the trachea.

29. Where is the vallecula epiglottica located?
Between the glossoepiglottic folds on each side of the posterior oropharynx.

30. What is another name for the larynx?

31. Where is the larynx located?
Between the base of the tongue and the upper end of the trachea.

32. What are the functions of the larynx?
It acts as a passageway of air between the pharynx and the trachea. It serves as a protective mechanism against the aspiration of liquids and foods and generates for speech.

33. What single cartilages do the Larynx consists of?
Thyroid cartilage, cricoid cartilage, and epiglottis.

34. What composes the interior of the larynx?
It is lined with mucous membrane.

35. What is another name from thyroid cartilage?
Adam’s apple.

36. What is the epiglottis?
It is a broad, spoon-shaped fibrocartilaginous structure. It prevents the aspiration of foods and liquids by covering the opening of the larynx during swallowing.

37. What is the narrowest point of the larynx?

38. What is commonly seen in infants and young children?
Glottic and subglottic swelling (edema) secondary to viral or bacterial infection which is known as croup syndrome.

39. What is acute epiglottis?
Supraglottic airway obstruction resulting from inflammation of the epiglottis, aryepiglottic folds, and false vocal folds. This is life-threatening.

40. What are the two vital functions of the larynx?
The larynx is to ensure a free flow of air to and free the lungs and its effort closure during exhalation knowns as the Valsalva maneuver.

41. What is the composition of the tracheobronchial tree?
Branching airways commonly referred as generations or orders; cartilaginous airways and non-cartilaginous airways.

42. What are cartilaginous airways?
Serve only to conduct air between the external environment and the sites of gas exchange.

43. What are non-cartilaginous airways?
Serve as both as conductors of air and sites of gas exchange.

44. What layers is the tracheobronchial tree composed of?
Epithelial lining, lamina propria and cartilaginous layer.

45. What is epithelial lining?
Pseudostratified ciliated columnar epithelium with numerous mucous glands separated from the lamina propria.

46. Where does the pseudostratified ciliated epithelium extend?
From the trachea to the respiratory bronchioles.

47. What composes the mucous lining of the tracheobronchial tree?
The mucous lining of the TB tree is called “Mucous blanket. Composed of 95% water with the remaining 5% of glycoproteins carbohydrates, lipids, DNA some cellular debris and foreign materials.

48. How is mucous produced?
Goblet cells and submucosal or bronchial glands.

49. What gland produces the most mucous?
The submucosal glands.

50. What are the glands innervated by?
Parasympathetic nerve fibers (10th cranial nerve) and produces 100ml of bronchial secretions per day.

51. What are gel and sol layer and their differences?
The sol layer is thin and adjacent to the epithelial lining while the gel layer is thicker (vicious layer) adjacent to the inner luminal surface.

52. What is the mucociliary transport mechanism (mucociliary escalator)?
It is an important part of the cleansing mechanism of the tracheobronchial tree.

53. What is the lamina propria?
The submucosal layer of the tracheobronchial tree. Within there is loose, fibrous tissue that contains tiny blood vessels, lymphatic vessels, and branches of the vagus nerve.

54. What surrounds the lamina propria?
Thin connective tissue called peribronchial sheath.

55. What is the immune response and which cells are responsible for this action?
Mast cells play an important role in the immunologic mechanism. They are found in the lamina propria. Substances that can significantly alter the diameter of broncial airways and chemical mediators that are released as the mast cell degranulates.

56. What chemicals, when released, increases vascular permeability, smooth muscle contraction, increased mucus secretions and vasodilation with edema?
Histamine, Heparin, platelet activating factor (PAF), esinophillic chemotatic factor of anaphylaxis (ECF-A) and Leikotriences.

57. What is atelectasis?
Alveolar collapse (lung collapse).

58. What is the normal production of IgE?
200 ng/ml.

59. The cartilaginous airways consist of what?
Trachea, main stem bronchi, lobar bronchi, segmental bronchi and sub segmental bronchi.

60. What is the bifurcation of the trachea known as?
The carina.

61. How many c shaped cartilages support the trachea?
15 to 20.

62. What is the right mainstem bronchus?
Branches off the trachea are 25 degree angle. It is wider and 5 cm shorter than the left. The right is wider and more vertical than the left.

63. What is the left mainstem bronchus?
40 to 60 degrees with the trachea.

64. What structure lies posterior to the trachea?

65. What are lobal bronchi?
Part of the cartilgnous airways. The right main stem bronchus divides into upper middle and lower lobar bronchi. Tracheobronchial trees second generation.

66. What are the segmental bronchi?
Third generation of bronchi branch off the lobar bronchi to form the segmental bronchi.
10 semental bronchi in the right lung and 8 in the left.

67. What are the non-cartilaginous airways?
Bronchioles and the terminal bronchioles.

68. What are canals of lambert and where are they located?
They are located in the terminal bronchioles.

69. What are Clara cells and where are they located?
Clara cells are located in the terminal bronchioles. It has thick protoplasmic extensions that budge into the lumen of the terminal bronchioles. Secretory functions that contribute to the extracellular liquid lining the bronchioles and alveoli.

70. What nourishes the tracheobroncial tree?
The bronchial arteries.

71. How much of patients cardiac output feeds the tracheobronchial tree?
The normal bronchial arterial blood flow is 1 % of the cardiac out.

72. What structure of the heart directs blood flow to the lungs?
The pulmonary artery directs blood flow to the lungs.

73. What is venous admixture?
The mixing of venous blood and freshly oxygenated blood.

74. What are the sites of gas exchange?
3 generations of respiratory bronchioles, 3 generations of alveolar ducts, 15 to 20 grapelike clusters and the alveolar sacs.

75. Approximately how many alveoli are there in the average adult male?
300 million alveoli and between 75 and 300 nanometer in diameter and pulmonary capillaries cover 85 to 95 percent of the alveoli.

76. How much surface area is provided by the alveoli?
70 m^2 (about the size of a tennis court) for gas exchange.

77. What are type 1 cella?
Also called squamous pneumocytes. They consist of cytoplasmic ground substance 95 percent alveolar surface. 0.1 to 05 nanometer thick are major sites of alveolar gas exchange. Type 1 cells die and they are not able to reproduce.

78. What is a type 2 cell?
Granular pneumocytes. They can reproduce and convert to type 1 cells. Remaining 5% of the total alveolar surface. They have pulmonary surfactant. Plays a major role in decreasing the surface tension of the fluid that lines the alveoli (alveolar epithelium).

79. What are pores of Kohn and where are they located?
Small holes in the walls of the interalveolar septa; 3-13 nanometers in diameter and permit gas to move between adjacent alveoli; the desquamation (shedding or peeling) of the epithelial cells; the normal degeneration of tissue cells as a result of age; and, the movement of macrophages which may leave holes in the alveolar walls.

80. What role do the alveolar macrophages play?
For type 3 plays a major role in removing bacteria and other foreign particles that are deposited in the ini.

81. What is the pulmonary vascular system?
Delivers blood to and from the lungs for gas exchange. The pulmonary vascular system provides nutritional substances distal to the terminal bronchioles.

82. What does the pulmonary vascular system consist of?
Arteries, arterioles, capillaries, venules, and veins.

83. What are arteries?
The right ventricle pumps deoxygenated blood into the pulmonary artery.

84. What are arterioles?
Supplies nutrients to the respiratory bronchioles, alveolar ducts, and alveoli. Plays an important role in the distribution and regulation of blood called resistance vessels.

85. What are capillaries?
Gas and fluid exchange, production and destruction of biologically active substances (serotonin, norepinephrine).

86. What are veins and venules?
Venules empty blood into veins which carries blood back to the heart.

87. What is contained within the mediastinum?
Trachea, heart, major blood vessels commonly known as the great vessels, thymus gland, and lymph nodes.

88. What is the role and importance of the pleural linings and cavity?
Visceral: the outer surface of each lung; parietal: inside the thoracic walls, thoracic surface of the diaphragm and the lateral portion of the mediastinum; and, pleural cavity: space between the visceral and parietal contains pleural fluid which provides lubrication as lung expands and contact during respiration.

89. What is the thorax?
Protects the organs of the cardiopulmonary system.

90. What does the thorax consist of?
Manubrium sterni, body of the sternum, and xiphoid process.

91. What is the joint between the manubrium and the body of the sternum called?
The manubriosternal joint also referred to the sternal angle or angle of Louis.

92. What are the first 7 ribs?
True ribs because they are attracted directly to the sternum.

93. What are the 8-10 ribs?
False ribs because it attaches to the cartilage of the ribs above.

94. What are the 11-12 ribs?
Floating ribs, they are 11 intercostal spaces between the ribs and contain veins arteries and nerves.

95. What is the major muscle for ventilation?
The diaphragm is the major muscle for ventilation.

96. What are the accessory muscles of inspiration?
External intercostal, scalenus, sternocleidomastoid, pectoralis muscle and trapezius muscle.

97. What are the accessory muscles of expiration?
Rectus abdominis muscle, external abdominis oblique muscle, internal abdominis obliques muscle, transverse abdominis muscle, and internal intercostal muscle.

98. What does an increased AP diameter represent?
Air trapping in the lungs. Commonly seen in patient with COPD.

99. What is the normal AP diameter?
1:2 in normal adults.

100. What is hilum?
Part of the lung where the main stem bronchi vessels and nerves enter.

101. What are the three layers of tissues in an arterial vessel?
Inner layer (tunica intima) composed of endothelium and a thin layer of connective and elastic its. Middle layer (Tunica Media) composed of elastic connective tissue in large arteries and smooth muscle. And, outer layer (Tunica adventitia) composed of connective tissue that is suited for carrying blood under high pressures in the systemic system.

102. What is the importance of the capillary beds of the lungs?
Gas and fluid exchange, they play an important biochemical role in the production and destruction of a broad range of biologically active substances.

103. What is the wall thickness of the capillary?
The walls of the pulmonary capillaries are less than 0.1 nanometers thick and the external diameter of each vessel is 10 nanometers.

104. What are the resistance vessels?
Arterioles play an important role in the distribution and regulation of blood.

105. Why are veins referred to as capacitance vessels?
Because they are capable of collecting a large amount of blood with very little pressure change.

106. What is the lymphatic system?
Removes excess fluid and protein molecules that leak out of the pulmonary capillaries.

107. What is peristaltic moment?
The larger lymphatic channels are surrounded by smooth muscle bands that actively produce peristatlic movements regulated by the ANS.

108. What role do the lymph nodes serve?
The nodes act as a filter, keeping particulate matter and bacteria from entering the bloodstream.

109. What is the majority of the lymph structure found and how does this affect the possibility of pleural effusions comparatively between the left and right lung?
The majority of them are found in the surface of the lower lung lobes. Bilateral effusion patients have more fluid in the lower right then in the lower left.

110. What is the neural control of lungs?
Balance or tone of the bronchial and arteriolar smooth muscle of the lungs is controlled by the ANS. (Involuntary functions)

111. What is the sympathetic nervous system?
Cause the heart rate to increase and increases strength in contraction.

112. What are alpha cells?
Alpha receptors of the smooth muscles of the arterioles causing the pulmonary vascular system to constrict. The parasympathetic nervous system is activated causing the constriction of the bronchial smooth muscle.

113. What are beta receptors?
It is called propranolol. If the patient receives a parasympathetic and it causes the bronchial relation occurs.

114. What is the description of the right lung?
Larger and heavier than the left. It is divided into upper, middle, and lower lobes by oblique and horizontal fissures.

115. What is the description of the left lung?
Divided into upper and lower lobs separated by the oblique fissure which extends from the costal to the mediastinal borders of the lung.

116. To what extent do the apices rise relative to the thorax?
The apices rise to about the level of the first rib.

117. How does the horizontal fissure extend?
Horizontally from the oblique fissure to about the level of the 4th costal cartilage and separate the middle from the upper lobe.

118. What of the following line the anterior one- third of the nasal cavity?
Stratified squamous epithelium.

119. What forms the nasal septum?
Ethmoid bone and vomer.

120. What prevents aspiration of foods and liquids?

121. Where are the canals of lambert found?
Terminal bronchioles.

122. Where are the pharyngotympanic (auditory) tubes found?

123. What is the inferior portion of the larynx composed of?
Cricoid cartilage.

124. What has the greatest combined cross-sectional area?
The terminal bronchioles.

125. What degrees do the left main stem bronchus angles off from the carina?
40-60 degrees from the carina.

126. What cells does ninety- five percent of the alveolar surfaces composed of?
Type 1 and squamous pneumocytes.

127. What are released when the parasympathetic nerve fibers are stimulated?

128. What is released when the sympathetic nerve fibers are stimulated?
Norepinephrine and epinephrine.

129. Pseudostratified ciliated columnar epithelium lines what?
Trachea and nasopharynx.

130. What are accessory muscles of inspiration?
Trapezius and scalene muscles.

131. What does the horizontal fissure separate?
Middle and upper lobes of the right lung.

132. What supplies motor innervation of each hemidiaphragm?
Phrenic and glossopharyngeal nerve (9th cranial nerve).

133. What structure of the tracheobronchial tree does the cartilage found?
Respiratory bronchioles

134. The bronchial arteries nourish the tracheobronchial tree down to and including what?
Terminal bronchioles.

135. What elevates the soft palate?
The levator veli palatine muscle.

Final Thoughts

So there you have it! That wraps up our study guide on the Anatomy and Physiology of the Respiratory System. If you go through these practice questions a few times, I have know doubt that you’ll boost your knowledge and gain a good understanding of everything you need to know about the Respiratory System.

I wish you the best of luck and as always, breathe easy my friend. 


The following are the sources that were used while doing research for this article:

  • Faarc, Kacmarek Robert PhD Rrt, et al. Egan’s Fundamentals of Respiratory Care. 12th ed., Mosby, 2020. [Link]
  • Jardins, Des Terry. Cardiopulmonary Anatomy & Physiology: Essentials of Respiratory Care. 7th ed., Cengage Learning, 2019. [Link]

Disclosure: The links to the textbooks are affiliate links which means, at no additional cost to you, we will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.