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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Modeling the fluid-structure interaction of the upper airway : towards simulation of obstructive sleep apnea Anderson, Peter J.


Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a syndrome in which the human Upper Airway (UA) collapses during sleep leading to frequent sleep disruption and inadequate air supply to the lungs. OSA involves Fluid-Structure Interaction (FSI) between a complex airflow regime and intricate mechanics of soft and hard tissue, causing large deformation of the complicated UA geometry. Numerical simulations provide a means for understanding this complex system, therefore, we develop a validated FSI simulation, composed of a 1D fluid model coupled with a 3D FEM solid solver (Artisynth), that is applied to a parameterized airway model providing a fast and versatile system for researching FSI in the UA. The 1D fluid model implements the limited pressure recovery model of Cancelli and Pedley [28] using a dynamic pressure recovery term, area function corrections allowing complete closure and reopening of fluid geometries, and discretization schemes providing robust behavior in highly-uneven geometries. The fluid model is validated against 3D fluid simulations in static geometries and simple dynamic geometries, and proves reliable for predicting bulk flow pressure. Validation of simulation methods in Artisynth is demonstrated by simulating the buckling, complete collapse, and reopening of elastic tubes under static pressure which compare well with experimental results. The FSI simulation is validated against experiments performed for a collapsible channel (a "2D" Starling resistor) designed to have geometry and characteristics similar to the UA. The observed FSI behaviors are described and compared for both experiment and simulation, providing a quantitative validation of the FSI simulation. The simulations and experiments agree quite well, exhibiting the same major FSI behaviors, similar progression from one behavior to another, and similar dynamic range. A parameterized UA model is designed for fast and consistent creation of geometries. Uniform pressure and dynamic flow FSI simulations are performed with this model for numerous parameters associated with OSA. Uniform pressure simulations compare well to clinical data. Dynamic flow results demonstrate airflow limitation and snoring oscillations. The simulations are fast, simulating 1 s of FSI in 30 minutes. This model is a powerful tool for understanding the complex mechanics of OSA.

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