Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) is increasingly applied in the respiratory domain. The ability to simulate the flow through a bifurcating tubular system has increased the insight into the internal flow dynamics and the particular characteristics of respiratory flows such as secondary motions and inertial effects. The next step in the evolution is to apply the technique to patient-specific cases, in order to provide more information about pathological airways.
This study presents a patient-specific approach where both the geometry and the boundary conditions (BC) are based on individual imaging methods using computed tomography (CT). The internal flow distribution of a 73-year-old female suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is assessed. The validation is performed through the comparison of lung ventilation with gamma scintigraphy.
The results show that in order to obtain agreement within the accuracy limits of the gamma scintigraphy scan, both the patient-specific geometry and the BC (driving pressure) play a crucial role. A minimal invasive test (CT scan) supplied enough information to perform an accurate CFD analysis. In the end it was possible to capture the pathological features of the respiratory system using the imaging and computational fluid dynamics techniques. This brings the introduction of this new technique in the clinical practice one step closer. (C) 2007 IPEM. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.