What is the function of the cartilage rings in the trachea?

The cartilaginous rings in the trachea and bronchi serve to hold the airway open so that oxygen can be breathed in with a minimum of effort by the diaphragm. Tracheal rings become flattened, leading to narrowing of airway diameter, elongation of the dorsal tracheal membrane, and prolapse into the airway. The C-shaped cartilaginous ring prevents collapsing of trachea. It allows the trachea to collapse slightly at its opening, so food can pass down the esophagus after swallowing

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