Pulmonary ventilation or breathing is the process by which gases are exchanged between the lungs and atmosphere. Breathing is accomplished by movements of the chest wall and diaphragm which inflate and deflate the lungs. Inspiration and expiration movements are accompanied by changes in the size of the thoracic cavity.

Inside the thorax there are two pleural membranes, one lines the inside of the thorax and the other covers the outside of the lungs. The space in between contains a small amount of fluid which enables the membranes to slide over each other, but not apart. This cohesion between the two moist pleura enables the lungs to expand, since as the thorax moves up and outwards during inspiration the lungs are stretched along too.

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