Pleural cavity

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The pleural cavity (lat. Cavitas pleuralis or Cavum pleurae ) or the pleural space is the narrow (capillary) gap (space) in the chest cavity between the wall sheet and the lung covering of the pleura ( pleura ). Since this space is very small, the term pleural space is also used.


A pleural cavity is only found in mammals , except in proboscis . With them, the space between the wall sheet and the lung covering of the pleura is fused by connective tissue . Instead of a pleural cavity, birds have an air sac system .


Physiologically, there is a relative negative pressure in the pleural cavity . The pleural space is filled with a serous fluid (about 5–10 ml in adults) through which the parietal and visceral sheets of the pleura “stick” together. The restoring force of the lungs and the tendency of the thorax to expand counteract each other. The resulting negative pressure in the gap and the adhesive force of the liquid prevent the lungs from collapsing.

The pressure difference from the outside air is at inhalation about -800  Pa in exhalation -500 Pa. The lower pressure during inhalation is explained by the resilience of the organ, which increases when the lungs are “inflated”, due to its elasticity. With strongly forced exhalation (with the support of the auxiliary respiratory muscles such as the chest muscles ), the so-called intrapleural pressure during exhalation can also assume positive values. These can even reach up to +15 kPa (110 mmHg) with a glottic closure (see also Valsalva maneuver ).

Clinical reference


  • Jens Huppelsberg, Kerstin Walter: Short textbook Physiology. 2nd, corrected edition. 2005, ISBN 3-13-136432-7 .

Individual evidence

  1. Andrew L. Banyai: Is "spontaneous pneumothorax" really spontaneous? In: Dis. Chest. Volume 56, No. 6, December 1969, p. 487, accessed April 25, 2020.
  2. ^ John B. West: Why doesn't the elephant have a pleural space? In: News in Physiological Sciences. Volume 17, 2002, pp. 47-50, doi : 10.1152 / nips.01374.2001 .
  3. American Physiological Society : For elephants, it's not just their ears and trunk that make them unique on land In: , August 2002, accessed April 26, 2020.
  4. Hans-Rainer Duncker: The air sac system of the birds. The Lung Air Sac System of Birds. Springer, Berlin / Heidelberg 1971, pp. 155–158.