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question about surfactant.

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by hyhero89 hyhero89 (Member)

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I'm not sure this question is to be on this category.

I am studying the respiratory physiology, and this statement is making me disturbed.

'If there were not surfactant secreted by type2 cell of alveoli, the alveoli will be collapsed. Because of the increased surface tension.'

from above sentence, I know what the surfactant is, what it does but I wonder how increased surface tension makes alveoli collapsed. I mean, from physical point of mechanism.

When alveoli collapse With increased surface tension, do they just tear apart? Like balloon?

It would be very thankful if you give physical explanation of collapsing of alveoli

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meanmaryjean has 40 years experience and works as a Nursing Faculty.

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The alvioli collapse like a previously blow up balloon that you suddenly let the air out of.

(I'm old- worked on the clinical trials for both surfactant AND PGE1)

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FlyingScot has 28 years experience and works as a Oncological Clinic/Port Draw Queen.

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Think of it this way. If you blow up a balloon and then let the air out how easy is it to re-inflate? Not very easy because the balloon sticks together and you have to blow harder to achieve inflation. Now put a little soapy water in the balloon. It will inflate easily because the soap decreased the surface tension.

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69 Likes; 14,536 Visitors; 850 Posts

I found a link to a video online that explains this - it's super short and very basic (about 30 seconds):

Here is a much longer, more detailed explanation (if needed):

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