Effect of Nasal Valve Shape on Downstream Volume, Airflow, and Pressure Drop: Importance of the Nasal Valve Revisited

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Abstract

Objectives:

The relative importance of the nasal valve relative to the remainder of the nasal airway remains unknown. The goal of this article was to objectively measure the shape of the nasal inlet and its effect on downstream airflow and nasal cavity volume using a physical model and a physiologic flow model.

Methods:

A patient who had isolated nasal valve surgery and had pre- and postoperative computed tomography scans available for analysis was studied. Nasal inlet shape measurements, computational fluid dynamics, and nasal volume analysis were performed using the computed tomography data. In addition, a physical model was used to determine the effect of nasal obstruction on downstream soft tissue.

Results:

The postoperative shape of the nasal inlet was improved in terms of length and degree of tortuosity. Whereas the operated-on region at the nasal inlet showed an only 25% increase in cross-sectional area postoperatively, downstream nonoperated sites in the nasal cavity revealed increases in area ranging from 33% to 51%. Computational fluid dynamics analysis showed that airway resistance decreased by 42%, and pressure drop was reduced by 43%. Intraluminal mucosal expansion was found with nasal obstruction in the physical model.

Conclusion:

By decreasing the degree of bending and length at the nasal valve, inspiratory downstream nonoperated sites of the nasal cavity showed improvement in volume and airflow, suggesting that the nasal valve could play an oversized role in modulating the aerodynamics of the airway. This was confirmed with the physical model of nasal obstruction on downstream mucosa.

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