Computational fluid dynamics evaluation of excessive dynamic airway collapse

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Abstract

Background:

Excessive dynamic airway collapse, which is often caused by the collapse of the posterior membrane wall during exhalation, is often misdiagnosed with other diseases; stents can provide support for the collapsing airways. The standard pulmonary function tests do not necessarily show change in functional breathing condition for evaluation of these type of diseases.

Methods:

Flow characteristics through a patient's airways with excessive dynamic airway collapse have been numerically investigated. A stent was placed to support the collapsing airway and to improve breathing conditions. Computed tomography images of the patient's pre- and post-stenting were used for generating 3-Dimensional models of the airways, and were imported into a computational fluid dynamics software for simulation of realistic air flow behavior. Unsteady simulations of the inspiratory phase and expiratory phase were performed with patient-specific boundary conditions for pre- and post-intervention cases to investigate the effect of stent placement on flow characteristic and possible improvements.

Findings:

Results of post-stent condition show reduced pressure, velocity magnitude and wall shear stress during expiration. The variation in wall shear stress, velocity magnitude and pressure drop is negligible during inspiration.

Interpretation:

Although Spirometry tests do not show significant improvements, computational fluid dynamics results show significant improvements in pre- and post-treatment results, suggesting improvement in breathing condition.

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