Respiratory System Diseases / Disorders and
Diagnostic Terms
Define the following diagnostic terms
1. Auscultation: Listening to sounds within the
body with a stethoscope. Used for diagnosing
conditions of the lungs, pleura, heart,
abdomen, and to determine condition of the
fetus during pregnancy.
2. Percussion: Tapping on a surface to determine
the difference in the density of the underlying
structure. Tapping over solid organ produces
dull sound without resonance. Percussion over
an air-filled structure produces a resonant,
hollow note. As lungs fill with fluid and
become more dense, as in pneumonia,
resonance is replaced by dullness.
3. Pleural Rub: Grating sound produced by
motion of pleural surfaces rubbing against
each other; also called a friction rub. Occurs
when pleura are thickened by inflammation,
scarring or neoplastic cells. Heard by
auscultation and can be felt by placing fingers
on chest wall.
4. Rales (crackles): Abnormal crackling sounds
heard during inspiration when there is fluid,
blood, or pus in the alveoli.
5. Sputum: Material expelled from the chest by
coughing or clearing the throat. Purulent,
containing pus, sputum results from infection
and is often green or brown. Blood-tinged
sputum makes a physician suspicious of
6. Stridor: A strained, high-pitched, noisy sound
made on inspiration; it is associated with
obstruction of the larynx, trachea, or a
7. Wheezes: Musical sounds usually heard during
Define the following diseases and disorders
including the etiology and treatment when
Upper Respiratory Disorders
8. Croup: Acute respiratory syndrome in children
and infants; characterized by obstruction of
the larynx, barking cough, and stridor
a. Etiology: infection, allergy, or presence
of a foreign body in the larynx
9. Diphtheria: Acute infection of the throat and
upper respiratory tract caused by diphtheria
bacteria. Inflammation and leathery, opaque
membrane forms in pharynx and respiratory
a. Etiology: diphtheria bacteria
b. Rx. for Prevention: DPT Vaccination
Epistaxis: Nosebleed
a. Etiology: Traumatic or spontaneous
rupture of blood vessels in mucous
membrane of nose
11. Pertussis: Bacterial infection of the
pharynx, larynx, and trachea caused by
Bordetella pertussis, a highly contagious
bacterium. AKA whooping cough
a. Etiology: Bordetella pertussis
Bronchial Tube Disorders
12. Asthma: Spasm and narrowing of bronchi,
which leads to bronchial airway obstruction
a. Etiology: Allergy, infection; may be
aggravated by anxiety, cold, and
b. Rx: Drugs including inhaled agents that
dilate the bronchi
13. Bronchogenic Carcinoma: Cancerous
tumors arising from a bronchus; lung cancer
a. Etiology: Cigarette Smoking
b. Rx.: Surgery, chemotherapy, radiation
14. Chronic Bronchitis: Inflammation of the
bronchi that persists for a long time. Increased
secretion from the bronchial mucosa and
obstruction of the respiratory passages.
a. Etiology: Infection, cigarette smoking
15. Cystic Fibrosis: Inherited disease of
exocrine glands (pancreas, sweat glands, and
mucous membranes of the respiratory tract)
that leads to airway obstruction. Chronic
respiratory infections are common as is
pancreatic insufficiency (fats are improperly
a. Etiology: Inherited
b. Rx.: Replacement of pancreatic enzymes
and treatment of pulmonary obstruction
and infection.
Lung Disorders
16. Atelectasis: Incomplete expansion of
alveoli; collapsed, functionless, airless lung or
portion of a lung.
a. Etiology: Poor inspiration effort in
postoperative period, blockage of a
bronchus or smaller bronchial tube
by secretions, and a tumor or a chest
wound that permits air, fluid, or
blood to accumulate in the pleural
Rx.: Removal of underlying cause such as tumor,
foreign body, excessive mucous secretions, etc.,
and therapy to open airways – chest tube
17. Emphysema: Hyperinflation of air sacs
with destruction of alveolar walls
a. Etiology: Cigarette smoking and chronic
18. Pneumonia: Acute inflammation and
infection of alveoli, which fill with pus or
products of the inflammatory reaction.
a. Etiology: pneumococci, staphylococci,
fungi, viruses
b. Rx.: Antibiotics, supplemental oxygen,
and respiratory therapy
19. Pulmonary Abscess: Large collection of pus
(bacterial infection) in the lungs.
Pulmonary abscess of a rabbit lung.
20. Pulmonary Edema: Swelling and fluids in
the air sacs and bronchioles
a. Etiology: CHF
b.Rx.: Immediate Medical RX of drugs such
as diuretics, vasodilators, digitalis, and
oxygen in high concentrations and keep
pt. in sitting position.
21. Pulmonary Embolism: Blood clot or other
material lodges in vessels of the lung.
22. Tuberculosis: Infectious disease caused by
Mycobacterium tuberculosis; lungs are usually
involved, but any organ in the body may be
a. Etiology: Rod-shaped bacteria, bacilli,
invade lungs and produce small tubercles
(swelling) of infection
b. Rx.: Antituberculous chemotherapy;
Treat with many drugs at the same time
to prevent drug resistance.
Pleural disorders
23. Mesothelioma: A malignant tumor arising
in the pleura
a. Etiology: exposure to asbestos
24. Pleural Effusion: Escape of fluid into the
pleural cavity
Pleurisy: Inflammation of the pleura
26. Pneumothorax: Accumulation of air or gas
in the pleural cavity.
a. Etiology: May occur in the course of a
pulmonary disease when rupture of any
pulmonary lesions near the pleural
surface allows communication between
an alveolus or bronchus and the pleural
cavity. May follow trauma and
perforation of chest wall or prolonged
high-flow oxygen delivered by a
respirator in an intensive care unit.

Respiratory System Diseases / Disorders and Diagnostic Terms