Correlation between Subjective Nasal Patency and Intranasal Airflow Distribution

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Abstract

Objectives

(1) Analyze the relationship between intranasal airflow distribution and subjective nasal patency in healthy and nasal airway obstruction (NAO) cohorts using computational fluid dynamics (CFD). (2) Determine whether intranasal airflow distribution is an important objective measure of airflow sensation that should be considered in future NAO virtual surgery planning.

Study Design

Cross-sectional.

Setting

Academic tertiary medical center and academic dental clinic.

Subjects and Methods

Three-dimensional models of nasal anatomy were created based on computed tomography scans of 15 patients with NAO and 15 healthy subjects and used to run CFD simulations of nasal airflow and mucosal cooling. Subjective nasal patency was quantified with a visual analog scale (VAS) and the Nasal Obstruction Symptom Evaluation (NOSE). Regional distribution of nasal airflow (inferior, middle, and superior) was quantified in coronal cross sections in the narrowest nasal cavity. The Pearson correlation coefficient was used to quantify the correlation between subjective scores and regional airflows.

Results

Healthy subjects had significantly higher middle airflow than patients with NAO. Subjective nasal patency had no correlation with inferior and superior airflows but a high correlation with middle airflow (|r| = 0.64 and |r| = 0.76 for VAS and NOSE, respectively). Anterior septal deviations tended to shift airflow inferiorly, reducing middle airflow and reducing mucosal cooling in some patients with NAO.

Conclusion

Reduced middle airflow correlates with the sensation of nasal obstruction, possibly due to a reduction in mucosal cooling in this region. Further research is needed to elucidate the role of intranasal airflow distribution in the sensation of nasal airflow.

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