The structure of the human pulmonary acinus has been described infrequently. The aim of the study was to determine the branching pattern of respiratory bronchioles and alveolar ducts in a human acinus from the peripheral part of the lung, where space constraints may have affected airway branching patterns. The lungs were obtained from an 18 year old victim of a motor vehicle accident and fixed in inflation under a pressure of 25 cm H2O. A block was cut from the lower edge of the right lower lobe and embedded in plastic. Serial sections were cut and the branching pattern of airways subtended by a terminal bronchiole were followed. The acinus was bounded on two sides by pleura and on the remaining sides by connective tissue septa. The terminal bronchiole divided into two respiratory bronchioles, each of which gave rise to four systems of alveolar ducts. Between successive systems of alveolar ducts the respiratory bronchioles continued as single airways, becoming progressively more alveolated towards the periphery but not subtending further branches of respiratory bronchioles. The duct systems became less complex towards the periphery, near to the edge of the lung. The total volume of the acinus was similar to that found in previous studies. This branching pattern has not been described previously in a human acinus.
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