Alveolar abnormalities are changes in the tiny air sacs in the lungs, called alveoli. The alveoli allow oxygen to enter the blood. They are very thin to let oxygen move from the lungs to the blood vessels, and for carbon dioxide to be removed from the blood vessels to the lungs.
These air sacs may collapse, fuse together, or develop thickened linings (membranes), which make it difficult for oxygen to enter the blood.
Albertine KH. Anatomy of the lungs. In: Mason RJ, Broaddus VC, Martin TR, et al, eds. Murray and Nadel's Textbook of Respiratory Medicine. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa:Saunders; 2010:chap 1.
Reynolds HY. Respiratory structure and function: mechanisms and testing. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 85.
Review Date: 6/10/2011
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; and Denis Hadjiliadis, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.