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J Appl Physiol (1985). 2004 Dec;97(6):2310-21. Epub 2004 Aug 20.

CT-based geometry analysis and finite element models of the human and ovine bronchial tree.

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  • 1Bioengineering Institute, The University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland, New Zealand.


The interpretation of experimental results from functional medical imaging is complicated by intersubject and interspecies differences in airway geometry. The application of computational models in understanding the significance of these differences requires methods for generation of subject-specific geometric models of the bronchial airway tree. In the current study, curvilinear airway centerline and diameter models have been fitted to human and ovine bronchial trees using detailed data segmented from multidetector row X-ray-computed tomography scans. The trees have been extended to model the entire conducting airway system by using a volume-filling algorithm to generate airway centerline locations within detailed volume descriptions of the lungs or lobes. Analysis of the geometry of the scan-based and model-based airways has verified their consistency with measures from previous anatomic studies and has provided new anatomic data for the ovine bronchial tree. With the use of an identical parameter set, the volume-filling algorithm has produced airway trees with branching asymmetry appropriate for the human and ovine lung, demonstrating the dependence of the method on the shape of the lung or lobe volume. The modeling approach that has been developed can be applied to any level of detail of the airway tree and into any volume shape for the lung; hence it can be used directly for different individuals or animals and for any number of scan-based airways. The resulting models are subject-specific computational meshes with anatomically consistent geometry, suitable for application in simulation studies.

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