Comparison of Airflow Between Spreader Grafts and Butterfly Grafts Using Computational Flow Dynamics in a Cadaveric Model

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Abstract

Importance

Nasal valve compromise is a major cause of nasal obstruction, and multiple methods have been developed to address it.

Objective

To compare nasal airflow resistance, airflow partitioning, and mucosal cooling (heat flux) before and after 2 surgical interventions, butterfly and spreader graft placement, used to treat nasal valve compromise.

Design, Setting, and Participants

In this cadaveric tissue study, 4 fresh cadaveric heads underwent both spreader graft and butterfly graft surgical procedures in alternating sequence in March 2016. Preoperative and postoperative computed tomographic scans were used to generate 3-dimensional (3-D) models of the nasal airway. These models were then used in steady state computational fluid dynamics simulations of airflow and heat transfer during inspiration.

Intervention

Butterfly and spreader graft techniques.

Main Outcomes and Measures

Nasal airflow resistance, airflow partitioning, and heat flux.

Results

Donors 1, 2, and 3 were white males; donor 4, a white female. Computational fluid dynamics simulations during inspiration in 3-D models generated from preoperative and postoperative computed tomographic scans of the 4 cadaveric heads indicated reductions from preoperative values in nasal airflow resistance associated with both butterfly grafts (range, 20%-51%) and spreader grafts (range, 2%-29%). Butterfly grafts were associated with a greater reduction in nasal airflow resistance in models of all 4 cadaveric heads. Changes from preoperative values for heat flux, a biophysical variable that correlates with the subjective sensation of nasal patency, were more variable, ranging from −11% to 4% following butterfly grafts and −9% to 10% following spreader grafts. The preoperative airflow allocation in the left and right nostrils improved consistently with the butterfly graft. With the spreader graft, there were improvements for donors 1 and 4, but the allocations were worse for donors 2 and 3.

Conclusions and Relevance

The results of this study suggest that the more recently developed butterfly graft technique may be associated with a similar level of improved nasal airflow as that observed with the use of a spreader graft in nasal valve compromise. Both interventions were associated with comparable changes in heat flux. Because this study addressed only static internal nasal valve stenosis, even greater differences in air flow and heat flux between the 2 techniques may be anticipated in a dynamic model. Further investigation in patients is warranted.

Level of Evidence

NA.

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