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Effect of glottic geometry on breathing: three-dimensional unsteady numerical simulation of respiration in a case with congenital glottic web

Gokcan, M. Kursat
Gunaydinoglu, Erkan
Kurtuluş, Dilek Funda
Glottic obstruction is a major cause of dyspnea. Without understanding the normal function of the glottis in breathing, treating dyspnea does not restore normal physiology. Therefore, we designed a computational fluid dynamics (CFD) model that tested the respiratory cycle in larynges with normal glottis and congenital glottic web (CGW). A CGW case and a control subject (CC) were selected from the computed tomography (CT) archive. 3D computational models of the larynges with structured boundary layer were constructed from axial CT images after mesh refinement study. CFD analyses were based on the Reynolds-averaged Navier-Stokes approach. Incompressible flow solver (pressure-based) and SST k-w turbulence model were chosen for this study. To simulate a real-time breathing process, time varying flow rate boundary condition was derived from the spirometer of a healthy, non-smoking woman. Glottic areas were measured as 51.64 and 125.43 mm(2) for the CGW patient and CC, respectively. Time-dependent velocity contours and streamlines for the CC and CGW patient were drawn. The CC showed uniform flow, all through the inspiration and expiration phases. However, the CGW patient showed separation of flow at the glottis level, which caused areas of stagnation in the supraglottis (during expiration) and the subglottis and trachea (during inspiration). Specialized geometry of the normal larynx maintained uniform flow with low shear stress values on the wall even at high mass flow rates. Distortion of this geometry may cause obstruction of flow at multiple levels and, therefore, should be evaluated at multiple levels.