Modeling of Airflow in the Pharynx With Application to Sleep Apnea

[+] Author and Article Information
B. Shome, L.-P. Wang, M. H. Santare, A. K. Prasad, A. Z. Szeri

Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Delaware, Newark, DE 19716-3140

D. Roberts

Anatek, Inc., Kennett Square, PA 19348

J Biomech Eng 120(3), 416-422 (Jun 01, 1998) (7 pages) doi:10.1115/1.2798009 History: Received November 25, 1996; Revised December 16, 1997; Online October 30, 2007


A three-dimensional numerical modeling of airflow in the human pharynx using an anatomically accurate model was conducted. The pharynx walls were assumed to be passive and rigid. The results showed that the pressure drop in the pharynx lies in the range 200-500 Pa. The onset of turbulence was found to increase the pressure drop by 40 percent. A wide range of pharynx geometries covering three sleep apnea treatment therapies (CPAP, mandibular repositioning devices, and surgery) were modeled and the resulting flow characteristics were investigated and compared. The results confirmed that the airflow in the pharynx lies in the laminar-to-turbulence transitional flow regime and thus, a subtle change in the morphology caused by these treatment therapies can significantly affect the airflow characteristics.

Copyright © 1998 by The American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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