Numerical and Experimental Analysis of Drug Inhalation in Realistic Human Upper Airway Model
The demand for a more efficient and targeted method for intranasal drug delivery has led to sophisticated device design, delivery methods, and aerosol properties. Due to the complex nasal geometry and measurement limitations, numerical modeling is an appropriate approach to simulate the airflow, aerosol dispersion, and deposition for the initial assessment of novel methodologies for better drug delivery. In this study, a CT-based, 3D-printed model of a realistic nasal airway was reconstructed, and airflow pressure, velocity, turbulent kinetic energy (TKE), and aerosol deposition patterns were simultaneously investigated. Different inhalation flowrates (5, 10, 15, 30, and 45 L/min) and aerosol sizes (1, 1.5, 2.5, 3, 6, 15, and 30 µm) were simulated using laminar and SST viscous models, with the results compared and verified by experimental data. The results revealed that from the vestibule to the nasopharynx, the pressure drop was negligible for flow rates of 5, 10, and 15 L/min, while for flow rates of 30 and 40 L/min, a considerable pressure drop was observed by approximately 14 and 10%, respectively. However, from the nasopharynx and trachea, this reduction was approximately 70%. The aerosol deposition fraction alongside the nasal cavities and upper airway showed a significant difference in pattern, dependent on particle size. More than 90% of the initiated particles were deposited in the anterior region, while just under 20% of the injected ultrafine particles were deposited in this area. The turbulent and laminar models showed slightly different values for the deposition fraction and efficiency of drug delivery for ultrafine particles (about 5%); however, the deposition pattern for ultrafine particles was very different.