School of Industrial Engineering, University of Vigo, Vigo, Pontevedra, 36310, Spain
Knowledge of respiratory flow behaviour is important in many respiratory medical fields. The usefulness of numerical models in providing a better understanding of flow phenomena has made the Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) an indispensable research tool due to the difficulty of measuring in vivo data. In this research, the extrathoracic airways and the upper tracheobronchial region, trachea and main bronchus bifurcation were modelled. Oral and nasal breathing routes have been considered under steady and cyclic unsteady conditions. A realistic far boundary condition was imposed as the flow inlet. Different ventilation levels and frequencies were simulated. The model presented has been validated successfully by two parts: nasal and oral models. The airflow distributions through oral and nasal routes were determined, analysed and compared under different breathing conditions. The flow behaviour and respiratory effort during inhalation and exhalation phases change from rest to high activity; the flow can increase 40% with the same respiratory effort, opening the mouth during the inspiration. Significant differences in turbulent intensity contours in steady and unsteady cases have been observed. This study demonstrated the relevance of considering different breathing patterns and more realistic unsteady conditions.