Relationship between lung volume and tracheal area as assessed by acoustic reflection

J Appl Physiol (1985). 1988 Mar;64(3):1050-4. doi: 10.1152/jappl.1988.64.3.1050.


To determine whether airway size correlates with measures of lung or body size, we used the acoustic reflection technique to calculate tracheal cross-sectional area in 103 healthy young adults. Men have significantly larger tracheas than women [2.48 +/- 0.08 vs. 1.91 +/- 0.05 (SE) cm2, P less than 0.001]. Within each sex, there is no correlation between tracheal size and body size or maximal expiratory flows. There is a significant positive correlation between tracheal area and vital capacity in males only (r = 0.36, P less than 0.01). These results support the concept of dysanapsis, relatively independent growth of the airways and lung parenchyma, as well as sex-related differences in airway size and growth. Inherent airway size may be a factor in the development and/or progression of lung disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Impedance Tests
  • Adult
  • Airway Resistance
  • Body Constitution
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung / anatomy & histology*
  • Lung / physiology
  • Lung Volume Measurements
  • Male
  • Maximal Expiratory Flow Rate
  • Microcomputers
  • Plethysmography
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Software
  • Trachea / anatomy & histology*
  • Trachea / physiology
  • Vital Capacity