Tracheal rings

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Tracheal rings
Ligaments of the larynx. Posterior view. (Rings visiblea at bottom.)
Latin cartilagines tracheales
Gray's subject #237 1086
Dorlands/Elsevier c_12/12217233

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]

The cartilages of the trachea (or tracheal rings) vary from sixteen to twenty in number: each forms an imperfect ring, which occupies the anterior two-thirds or so of the circumference of the trachea, being deficient behind, where the tube is completed by fibrous tissue and unstriped muscular fibers.

Middle tracheal cartilages

The cartilages are placed horizontally above each other, separated by narrow intervals.

They measure about 4 mm. in depth and 1 mm. in thickness.

Their outer surfaces are flattened in a vertical direction, but the internal are convex, the cartilages being thicker in the middle than at the margins.

Two or more of the cartilages often unite, partially or completely, and they are sometimes bifurcated at their extremities.

They are highly elastic, but may become calcified in advanced life.

Bronchial cartilages

In the right bronchus the cartilages vary in number from ten to twelve; in the left, from fifteen to twenty.

They are longer and wider than those of the trachea, but have the same shape and arrangement.

First and last tracheal cartilages

The peculiar tracheal cartilages are the first and the last.

The first cartilage is broader than the rest, and often divided at one end; it is connected by the cricotracheal ligament with the lower border of the cricoid cartilage, with which, or with the succeeding cartilage, it is sometimes blended.

The last cartilage is thick and broad in the middle, in consequence of its lower border being prolonged into a triangular hook-shaped process, which curves downward and backward between the two bronchi. It ends on each side in an imperfect ring, which encloses the commencement of the bronchus. The cartilage above the last is somewhat broader than the others at its center.

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