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Computational Analysis on Aerodynamics and Vortex Formation of Sleep Apnea

[+] Author Affiliations
Junshi Wang, Pan Han, Yaselly Sanchez, Haibo Dong

University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA

Jinxiang Xi

California Baptist University, Riverside, CA

Paper No. FEDSM2018-83257, pp. V001T02A003; 8 pages
  • ASME 2018 5th Joint US-European Fluids Engineering Division Summer Meeting
  • Volume 1: Flow Manipulation and Active Control; Bio-Inspired Fluid Mechanics; Boundary Layer and High-Speed Flows; Fluids Engineering Education; Transport Phenomena in Energy Conversion and Mixing; Turbulent Flows; Vortex Dynamics; DNS/LES and Hybrid RANS/LES Methods; Fluid Structure Interaction; Fluid Dynamics of Wind Energy; Bubble, Droplet, and Aerosol Dynamics
  • Montreal, Quebec, Canada, July 15–20, 2018
  • Conference Sponsors: Fluids Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5155-5
  • Copyright © 2018 by ASME


The fluid dynamics of air flow in the pharynx is critical to the vibration of the uvula and to the generation of the snoring sound. In this work, a combined experimental and computational approach was conducted to study the aerodynamics of the flow field in the human airway. An anatomically accurate pharynx model associated with different uvula kinematics was reconstructed from human magnetic resonance images (MRI) and high-speed photography. An immersed-boundary-method (IBM)-based direct numerical simulation (DNS) flow solver was used to simulate the corresponding unsteady flows in all their complexity. Analysis has been performed on vortex dynamics and pressure oscillation at various points of interest. Computations with varying airway obstructions, uvula kinematics, and vibrating frequencies were conducted to study the effect of the three factors on the vortex formation and pressure oscillation, respectively. It is found that the vortex formation is significantly affected by the airway width. The fast Fourier transformation (FFT) analysis of the pressure time history revealed the existence of higher order harmonics of the base frequency at significant amplitudes. It was also found that the pressure tended to oscillate more violently at higher uvula vibrating frequencies. Results from this work are expected to bring novel understanding on the sound producing in patients with sleep apnea and provide guidance for surgical interventions.

Copyright © 2018 by ASME



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