Numerical Investigation of Flow Characteristics in the Obstructed Realistic Human Upper Airway

Xingli Liu, Weiwei Yan, Yang Liu, Yat Sze Choy, Yikun Wei

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


The flow characteristics in the realistic human upper airway (HUA) with obstruction that resulted from pharyngeal collapse were numerically investigated. The 3D anatomically accurate HUA model was reconstructed from CT-scan images of a Chinese male patient (38 years, BMI 25.7). The computational fluid dynamics (CFD) with the large eddy simulation (LES) method was applied to simulate the airflow dynamics within the HUA model in both inspiration and expiration processes. The laser Doppler anemometry (LDA) technique was simultaneously adopted to measure the airflow fields in the HUA model for the purpose of testifying the reliability of LES approach. In the simulations, the representative respiration intensities of 16.8 L/min (slight breathing), 30 L/min (moderate breathing), and 60 L/min (severe breathing) were conducted under continuous inspiration and expiration conditions. The airflow velocity field and static pressure field were obtained and discussed in detail. The results indicated the airflow experiences unsteady transitional/turbulent flow in the HUA model under low Reynolds number. The airflow fields cause occurrence of forceful injection phenomenon due to the narrowing of pharynx caused by the respiratory illness in inspiration and expiration. There also exist strong flow separation and back flow inside obstructed HUA owing to the vigorous jet flow effect in the pharynx. The present results would provide theoretical guidance for the treatment of obstructive respiratory disease.
Original languageEnglish
Article number3181654
JournalComputational and Mathematical Methods in Medicine
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Modelling and Simulation
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Applied Mathematics


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