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Healthy lungs inhaling. Frontal chest X-ray of healthy lungs (black/blue) during inspiration (breathing in). Below the lungs lies the dome- shaped diaphragm (white), a muscular sheet between the chest cavity and abdominal cavity. The lungs are protected by the ribs (horizontal bands). During inhalation, the diaphragm contracts and flattens, while the intercostal muscles between the ribs also contract, pulling the ribs up and to the sides. These actions reduce the internal pressure of the lungs, creating a partial vacuum, which causes air to rush into the lungs. For an image of lungs during expiration (breathing out), see P580/168.
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