An Experimental Model Investigation of the Opening of a Collapsed Untethered Pulmonary Airway

[+] Author and Article Information
Matthew L. Perun, Donald P. Gaver

Department of Biomedical Engineering, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118

J Biomech Eng 117(3), 245-253 (Aug 01, 1995) (9 pages) doi:10.1115/1.2794177 History: Received June 09, 1993; Revised June 26, 1994; Online October 30, 2007


We developed an essentially two-dimensional planar benchtop model of an untethered collapsed airway to investigate the influence of fluid properties (viscosity, μ and surface tension, γ) and the structural characteristics (effective diameter, D, longitudinal tension, T, and fluid film thickness, H) on airway reopening. This simplified model was used to quantify the relationship between wall deformation and meniscus curvature during reopening. We measured the pressure (P) required to move the meniscus at a constant velocity (U), and found the dimensionless post-startup pressure (PD/γ) increased monotonically with the capillary number (Ca = μU/γ). Startup pressures depend on the fluid viscosity and piston acceleration, and may significantly increase reopening pressures. Consistently stable steady-state pressures existed when Ca > 0.5. D was the most dominant structural characteristic, which caused an increase in the post-startup pressure (P) for a decrease in D. An increase in H caused a slight decrease in the reopening pressure, but a spatial variation in H resulted in only a transient increase in pressure. T did not significantly affect the reopening pressure. From our planar two-dimensional experiments an effective yield pressure of 3.69 γ/D was extrapolated from the steady-state pressures. Based on these results, we predicted airway pressures and reopening times for axisymmetrically collapsed airways under various disease states. These predictions indicate that increasing surface tension (as occurs in Respiratory Distress Syndrome) increases the yield pressure necessary to reopen the airways, and increasing viscosity (as in cystic fibrosis) increases the time to reopen once the yield pressure has been exceeded.

Copyright © 1995 by The American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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