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J Biomech. 2013 Oct 18;46(15):2634-43. doi: 10.1016/j.jbiomech.2013.08.007. Epub 2013 Aug 26.

Changes in nasal airflow and heat transfer correlate with symptom improvement after surgery for nasal obstruction.

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Department of Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC, United States. Electronic address:


Surgeries to correct nasal airway obstruction (NAO) often have less than desirable outcomes, partly due to the absence of an objective tool to select the most appropriate surgical approach for each patient. Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) models can be used to investigate nasal airflow, but variables need to be identified that can detect surgical changes and correlate with patient symptoms. CFD models were constructed from pre- and post-surgery computed tomography scans for 10 NAO patients showing no evidence of nasal cycling. Steady-state inspiratory airflow, nasal resistance, wall shear stress, and heat flux were computed for the main nasal cavity from nostrils to posterior nasal septum both bilaterally and unilaterally. Paired t-tests indicated that all CFD variables were significantly changed by surgery when calculated on the most obstructed side, and that airflow, nasal resistance, and heat flux were significantly changed bilaterally as well. Moderate linear correlations with patient-reported symptoms were found for airflow, heat flux, unilateral allocation of airflow, and unilateral nasal resistance as a fraction of bilateral nasal resistance when calculated on the most obstructed nasal side, suggesting that these variables may be useful for evaluating the efficacy of nasal surgery objectively. Similarity in the strengths of these correlations suggests that patient-reported symptoms may represent a constellation of effects and that these variables should be tracked concurrently during future virtual surgery planning.


Computational fluid dynamics; Nasal heat flux; Nasal resistance; Numerical modeling; Patient symptoms

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