Respiration, the act of breathing, is unique in that, of all the vital functions, italone is regulated not only by autonomic centers located in the brainstem butalso by voluntary signals initiated in the cortex. The goals of respiration are toprovide oxygen to the tissues and to remove carbon dioxide. To achieve thesegoals, respiration can be divided into four major functions:(1) Pulmonary ventilation,
which means the inﬂow and outﬂow of air between
the atmosphere and the lung alveoli(2) Diffusion of oxygen and carbon dioxide between the alveoli and the blood(3) Transport of oxygen and carbon
dioxide in the blood and body ﬂuids toand from the body’s tissue cells
(4) Regulation of ventilation and other facets of respirationDuring normal quiet breathing, all respiratory muscle contraction occursduring inspiration and expiration is almost entirely a passive process causedby elastic recoil of the lungs and the chest cage. Thus, under resting
conditions, the respiratory muscles normally perform “work” to cause
inspiration but not to cause expiration.
Mechanics of pulmonary ventilation
can be explained by a fewimportant factors. The lungs mainly expand and contract with the help of thediaphragm and the accessory muscles of inspiration and expiration. Thepleural, alveolar and transpulmonary pressures help in facilitating themovement of air in and out of the lungs. The compliance of the lung isdetermined by the elastic forces of the lung tissue itself and the elastic forcescaused by the surface tension of the fluid that lines the inside walls of thealveoli and other lung air spaces. The surfactant secreted by the type IIalveolar epithelial cells, helps in reducing the alveolar surface tension andthereby reduces the effort required by the respiratory muscles to expand thelungs. The pulmonary volumes and capacities all have established normalvalues and help in determining any deviation in normal process of respiration.