Investigative Approaches

In Silico Simulations | In Vitro Experiments | In Vivo Measurements

The Airway Biomechanics Laboratory uses a wide range of computational techniques, in vitro experiments, and in vivo measurements to investigate respiratory biomechanics.  This diverse investigative toolset allows the Airway Lab to comprehensively investigate respiratory physiology and pathophysiology. 


In Silico Simulations

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Computational Fluid Dynamics

Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) is a technique designed to simulate airflow, heat transfer, and the transport of airborne particles. In the Airway Lab, patient-specific models of the respiratory tract anatomy are built from computed tomography (CT) scans and magnetic resonance images (MRI).


Diagram of Computational Fluid Dynamics illustrating  1) CT/MRI Data, 2) Segmentation 3) Mesh Generation (ICEM-CFD) and 4) CFD Simulations (Fluent) / Data Visualization (Fieldview)


Fluid-Structure Interaction Techniques

Fluid-Structure Interaction (FSI) techniques simulate both airflow and the movement of airway walls in response to forces generated by the airflow. This contrasts to CFD simulations, where walls are assumed to be rigid and stationary.


Fluid Structure Interaction Model, including illustrations of In-vitro model, fluid-structure model, fluid model and structural model


Computational Biology

Computational biology is a technique to simulate transport processes and chemical reactions at the cellular level.  


Ion Transport Model illustrating Ion Transport between Airway Surface Liquid and Epithelial Cell


In Vitro Experiments

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3D-Printed Replicas

 3D Printed Replica of Human Nasal Cavity

The Airway Lab uses 3D-printed replicas to quantify the pressure-flow relationships of the human upper airway.




Starling Resistor

Set-up for Starling Resistor Experiment

The Starling Resistor is a model of airway collapse in obstructive sleep apnea. A collapsible silicone tube (representing the pharynx) is located between two rigid tubes (representing the nasal cavity and trachea).



Anatomically Accurate Model of Airway Collapse in Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Anatomically-accurate model of the human upper-airway

The Airway Lab uses a combination of 3D printing and silicone molding to develop anatomically accurate models of the human upper airway with a collapsible pharynx to study the mechanics of airway collapse in obstructive sleep apnea.


In Vivo Measurements

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Drug Induced Sedation Endoscopy  (DISE)

Images of oral cavity with and without appliance

In collaboration with Dr. Tucker Woodson (MCW Department of Otolaryngology), the Airway Lab has performed in vivo measurements of airway collapsibility in patients with obstructive sleep apnea during drug-induced sedated endoscopy (DISE).



Measuring Nasal Mucosal Temperature

Gathering nasal mucosal temperature measurements

The Airway Lab has conducted In Vivo measurements of nasal mucosal temperature in healthy volunteers. Cooling of the nasal mucosa during inspiration is the one of the main mechanisms of perception of nasal airflow.










Rhinomanometry used to quantify nasal resistance to airflow in human

Rhinomanometry is a technique to quantify nasal resistance to airflow. In the Airway Lab, these in vivo measurements are used to validate the pressure-flow relationship of the human nasal cavity predicted by computational fluid dynamics (CFD) models.







View more Airway Lab Research