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Int Forum Allergy Rhinol. 2019 Mar 12. doi: 10.1002/alr.22328. [Epub ahead of print]

Impact of endoscopic craniofacial resection on simulated nasal airflow and heat transport.

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Department of Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC.
Department of Mechanical Engineering, South Dakota State University, Brookings, SD.
Division of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC.
Department of Biology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC.



Endoscopic craniofacial resections (CFR) are performed for extensive anterior skull base lesions. This surgery involves removal of multiple intranasal structures, potentially leading to empty nose syndrome (ENS). However, many patients remain asymptomatic postoperatively. Our objective was to analyze the impact of CFR on nasal physiology and airflow using computational fluid dynamics (CFD). This is the first CFD analysis of post-CFR patients.


Three-dimensional sinonasal models were constructed from 3 postoperative images using MimicsTM . Hybrid computational meshes were created. Steady inspiratory airflow and heat transport were simulated at patient-specific flow rates using shear stress transport k-omega turbulent flow modeling in FluentTM . Simulated average heat flux (HF) and surface area where HF exceeded 50 W/m2 (SAHF50) were compared with laminar simulations in 9 radiographically normal adults.


Three adults underwent CFR without developing ENS. Average HF (W/m2 ) were 132.70, 134.84, and 142.60 in the CFR group, ranging from 156.24 to 234.95 in the nonoperative cohort. SAHF50 (m2 ) values were 0.0087, 0.0120, and 0.0110 in the CFR group, ranging from 0.0082 to 0.0114 in the radiographically normal cohort. SAHF50 was distributed throughout the CFR cavities, with increased HF at the roof and walls compared with the nonoperative cohort.


Average HF was low in the CFR group compared with the nonoperative group. However, absence of ENS in most CFR patients may be due to large stimulated mucosal surface area, commensurate with the nonoperative cohort. Diffuse distribution of stimulated area may result from turbulent mixing after CFR. To better understand heat transport post-CFR, a larger cohort is necessary.


computational fluid dynamics; computer modeling for nasal airflow; craniofacial resection; empty nose syndrome; nasal airflow dynamics


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