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What do the nasal passages look like, anyways?

  1. Jan 29, 2011 #1


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    I know that they're passages where air can pass through. But most diagrams of the passages don't help me visualize them at all. They look like a second hole through the head, and that's not what they really look like (are they really almost as wide as the mouth? What about their height?). They always seem closed if I try to insert something in - I can, of course, push harder, but I don't try for fear that I may severely irritate my nasal passages (which could have very unpleasant consequences). All I know is that i can fill them up with a fair amount of water (maybe even more than I can hold in my mouth) with those NeilMed sinus rinses.

    I know that an endoscope could easily solve the question, but I can't find any pictures of an endoscope going through the nasal passages.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 29, 2011 #2
  4. Jan 30, 2011 #3


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    A little. I've seen that article before. But it's really hard to get any 3-dimensional structure out of that article (or any other diagrams I've seen on Wiki)

    Some of the things that have always confused me:

    - These cross-sectional diagrams always seem to show a bone suspended in midair - that's the bone between the mouth and the nasal cavities. I know that this bone is supported by tissues from the side. But it's still a bit confusing.

    - When you put your finger up your nose (yes I wash it after that), it's hard to feel any openings at all (you just feel the nose against the septum. Where do these openings lead to anyways? Do they lead into a particular concha? Or do they all lead into a common corridor for all 3 concha? In other words, which level of the concha do your fingers "almost" get into if you put them up your nose?
    - The septum is also sort of confusing. Are the nasal concha also divided by an extended septum (a bone structure) or are they interconnected with each other once they're in the nasal cavities?
    - Is it even possible to insert anything into any of the 3 concha? (and to get it back out)? I've always wondered about this whenever I get another episode of nasal congestion.
  5. Jan 30, 2011 #4
    yeah, it's not easy for me, either. i've only had the one anatomy class. i think what helps though is to get one of the newer anatomy books that has the skull bones in different primary colors. and then, you still have to look at it from several different views at once.

    i'm looking at my old Kapit & Elson anatomy coloring book, and it's pretty easy to see that the ethmoid bone and vomer make up the bony part of the center partition(septum). the cartilage is just in front of that. and i can feel a turbinate with my pinky, but i'm not sure if it's the inferior nasal concha or the middle concha off the ethmoid. air exits out the back into the nasopharynx.

    i wouldn't insert anything, but i have seen guys on television suck a string up their nose and spit it out their mouth as a stunt. it looks very uncomfortable.
  6. Jan 30, 2011 #5


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    Ah, thanks for the reply again.

    I see - are the newer anatomy books a lot better than anything Wikipedia offers? I should try to get one of them. What are some of your recommendations? (preferably books that don't have corpses in them - I don't want to get any nightmares from this =/)
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2011
  7. Jan 30, 2011 #6
    i don't know what's best. i only know that trying to learn from the public domain Gray's Anatomy drawings is a little difficult. we had a book by Marieb when i took anatomy, but i'm not sure it's a favorite with either Monique here or the teacher i had. my own teacher seemed to use a lot of McGraw-Hill material in her lectures, but i'm not sure who the author was.

    Adam interactive was actually pretty useful, but they are kind of expensive for the amount you actually use it for any labwork. plus, they are repressive with the way they license the software. Google has something out now, but i haven't used it yet. if you don't mind installing a beta version of Chrome or Firefox, you can give it a spin. http://bodybrowser.googlelabs.com/
  8. Jan 30, 2011 #7


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    Ah okay I see. I just found some anatomy textbooks on my own. :)

    Heh I looked at body browser now - meh - its diagrams of the nasal passages are horrible. :p
  9. Jan 30, 2011 #8
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2011
  10. Jan 30, 2011 #9


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    Interesting diagram. hmm


    Hm all the diagrams seem to show that it's possible to get things from the front side into the nasal concha (even though it's not possible to get things from the back side into the nasal concha). I wonder if that's true, or if things can only flow into the meatus (which are actually the passages).

    EDIT: Wow, I just looked at this: (bottom picture of pg. 49)

    http://books.google.com/books?id=rPm28ANkg2MC&lpg=PA46&dq=nasal meatus&pg=PA49#v=onepage&q&f=false

    Apparently, the concha are actually *attached* to the septum. But the concha actually look flappy and aren't attached to the tissue on the other side. So technically, there are even passages that are lateral to the concha - those passages are just narrower, it seems.

    But if you look at this, http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b0/Concha_nasalis.gif, you'll see that the concha aren't attached to the septum - they're attached to the tissue on the other side. But yes, there is a central passage that is lateral to the concha - that's right next to the septum and it's open for the entire vertical distance of the nasal cavity. Hmm. I *thought* that the first picture shows the nasal cavity looking into the direction of the nasal septum, not from the direction of the nasal septum. So this sort of confuses me. But now I just looked at http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/87/Gray855.png, and if you look at the mouth, you can definitely see that the picture is looking out FROM the midline of the human head. So maybe that clarifies things(http://books.google.com/books?id=wl...=0CK0BEOgBMBQ#v=onepage&q=nasal limen&f=false shows both views - the view from the septum outside is the view of the right lateral nasal wall). So actually the concha are attached to whatever is laterally on the opposite side of the septum (actually you can see that if you look at the nostrils which definitely show an outward projection). Wow. Good anatomy textbooks will try to show 3D structure by darkening in the parts that are farther from the field of view.

    But wow, I've discovered that google books really IS the perfect place to find anatomy pictures. The anatomy textbooks are so broad that they barely end up covering the anatomy of individual parts (and in which case Wikipedia is even better to use)


    This also looks interesting:http://books.google.com/books?id=hD...Aw#v=onepage&q=aditus of middle nasal&f=false

    http://books.google.com/books?id=ue...g#v=onepage&q=nasal meatus congestion&f=false
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2011
  11. Jan 30, 2011 #10
    yeah, your first book pic is looking from the same point of view as Gray855.png.

    the thieme atlas does make it a little clearer that the septum is right on the median.
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