NCLEX : Lung and Alveoli

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for NCLEX

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : Lung And Alveoli

How many lobes total are there in the human lungs?

Possible Answers:

Correct answer:

Explanation:

There are five lobes total in the human lungs: the right lung has three lobes (the upper lobe, the middle lobe, and the lower lobe) while the left lung has two lobes (the upper lobe and the lower lobe).

Example Question #2 : Lung And Alveoli

What is the name for the topmost part of the lung?

Possible Answers:

The apex

The hilum

The trachea

The lingula

Correct answer:

The apex

Explanation:

The topmost part of the lungs is the apex. This area extends into the neck above the 1st rib and is the location auscultated for a diagnosis of a pancost tumor. The lingula of the lung is a small flap of the lowest part of the upper lobe of the left lung. The hilum is the entry point of the lung for the bronchi, pulmonary artery and vein, and nerves. The trachea is not a part of the lung at all; it is the cartilaginous tube that connects the pharynx and larynx to the lung.

Example Question #1 : Lung And Alveoli

Which of the following lists of airway structures is in order from largest to smallest?

Possible Answers:

Bronchi - trachea - bronchiole - alveoli

Trachea - bronchiole - bronchi - alveoli

Trachea - alveoli - bronchiole - bronchi

Trachea - bronchi - bronchiole - alveoli

Correct answer:

Trachea - bronchi - bronchiole - alveoli

Explanation:

The largest airway structure is the trachea. This branches into two smaller bronchi, which enter the left and right lung and bifurcate further into smaller bronchioles. The bronchioles give way into the smallest structures of the lung, the tiny grape-like clusters of alveoli.

Example Question #2 : Lung And Alveoli

What structure of the lung is primarily responsible for controlling volume of air flow during respiration?

Possible Answers:

The bronchi

The alveoli

The trachea

The bronchioles

Correct answer:

The bronchioles

Explanation:

The main mediator of air flow during respiration is the bronchiole. These tiny airways are wrapped in smooth muscle, which allows them to contract or relax in order to restrict or increase air flow in the lung. The trachea and bronchioles are cartilaginous rather than muscular, and are unable to constrict, while the wall of the alveolar sac is also devoid of smooth muscle, made up only of epithelial cells, capillaries, and connective tissue.  

Example Question #5 : Lung And Alveoli

Which of the following allows debris to be removed from the lung?

Possible Answers:

Granulation

The mucociliary escalator

Bronchiolar constriction and dilation

The pleural lymph system

Correct answer:

The mucociliary escalator

Explanation:

The system by which debris is removed from the lung is termed the mucociliary escalator. This is made up of two parts: the mucus produced by respiratory goblet cells, and the wave-like movement of cilia covering the bronchioles and bronchi of the lung. Bacteria and particles  of debris are caught in the mucus coating the cilia, which is then passed in waves upward toward the trachea. Once it clears the trachea and enters the pharynx, it can either be coughed out or swallowed.  

Example Question #3 : Lung And Alveoli

The major alveolar cell type, making up 95% of alveolar cells, is type I. Only 5% of alveolar cells are type II, yet they serve a vital function in respiratory physiology. What is the function of type II alveolar cells?

Possible Answers:

They nourish the type I cells

They are important for the integrity of the alveolar connective tissue

They are the site of gas exchange

They secrete surfactant

Correct answer:

They secrete surfactant

Explanation:

Type II alveolar cells secrete pulmonary surfactant, a lipoprotein complex that is essential for lung function. This surfactant acts to break up the surface tension of fluid coating the lung airspaces, allowing for alveolar compliance and reducing the buildup of fluid in the lung. Lack of surfactant can lead to atelectasis, or collapse of part of the lung.

Example Question #7 : Lung And Alveoli

Which of the following is the primary muscle of respiration?

Possible Answers:

The intercostals

The diaphragm

The sternocleidomastoid

The scalenes

Correct answer:

The diaphragm

Explanation:

The most important muscle of respiration is the diaphragm, followed by the intercostals. The sternocleidomastoid and scalenes are considered accessory muscles of respiration. 

Example Question #4 : Lung And Alveoli

How do bronchioles respond to an increase in the partial pressure of carbon dioxide in the alveoli?

Possible Answers:

They dilate

The bronchioles do not respond to changes in the partial pressure of carbon dioxide

They secret mucus

They constrict 

Correct answer:

They dilate

Explanation:

Carbon dioxide has paracrine effects in the airway, causing the smooth muscle of bronchioles to relax. When the partial pressure of carbon dioxide in the alveoli increases, the bronchioles dilate. This allows for increased ventilation.

Example Question #9 : Lung And Alveoli

What nerve innervates the diaphragm (necessary for normal inhalation)?

Possible Answers:

The subcostal artery

The vagus nerve

The phrenic nerve

The intercostal nerve

Correct answer:

The phrenic nerve

Explanation:

The diaphragm is innervated by the phrenic nerve. This nerve exits the spine at C3-C5. In the case of spinal cord trauma, if injury occurs above C3, the diaphragm is no longer able to function on its own and breathing assistance is generally required.

Example Question #10 : Lung And Alveoli

Which of the following terms describes the maximum volume of air a person can exhale after maximum inhalation?

Possible Answers:

Residual volume

Functional residual capacity

Vital capacity

None of these

Correct answer:

Vital capacity

Explanation:

Vital capacity is the maximum volume of air a person can exhale after maximum inhalation. Residual volume is the air that remains in the lung after forced exhalation, while functional residual capacity is the volume of air that remains in the lung after a relaxed exhalation. 

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