Functional imaging using computational fluid dynamics to predict treatment success of mandibular advancement devices in sleep-disordered breathing

J Biomech. 2007;40(16):3708-14. doi: 10.1016/j.jbiomech.2007.06.022. Epub 2007 Jul 30.


Mandibular advancement devices (MADs) have emerged as a popular alternative for the treatment of sleep-disordered breathing. These devices bring the mandibula forward in order to increase upper airway (UA) volume and prevent total UA collapse during sleep. However, the precise mechanism of action appears to be quite complex and is not yet completely understood; this might explain interindividual variation in treatment success. We examined whether an UA model, that combines imaging techniques and computational fluid dynamics (CFD), allows for a prediction of the treatment outcome with MADs. Ten patients that were treated with a custom-made mandibular advancement device (MAD), underwent split-night polysomnography. The morning after the sleep study, a low radiation dose CT scan was scheduled with and without the MAD. The CT examinations allowed for a comparison between the change in UA volume and the anatomical characteristics through the conversion to three-dimensional computer models. Furthermore, the change in UA resistance could be calculated through flow simulations with CFD. Boundary conditions for the model such as mass flow rate and pressure distributions were obtained during the split-night polysomnography. Therefore, the flow modeling was based on a patient specific geometry and patient specific boundary conditions. The results indicated that a decrease in UA resistance and an increase in UA volume correlate with both a clinical and an objective improvement. The results of this pilot study suggest that the outcome of MAD treatment can be predicted using the described UA model.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Computer Simulation
  • Humans
  • Mandibular Advancement / instrumentation*
  • Mandibular Advancement / methods
  • Models, Biological*
  • Prognosis
  • Radiography
  • Respiratory Mechanics*
  • Rheology / methods*
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / diagnostic imaging
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / physiopathology*
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / rehabilitation*
  • Therapy, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Treatment Outcome