Computational fluid dynamics can detect changes in airway resistance in asthmatics after acute bronchodilation

J Biomech. 2008;41(1):106-13. doi: 10.1016/j.jbiomech.2007.07.009. Epub 2007 Aug 14.


The effect of a bronchodilator in asthmatics is only partially described by changes in spirometric values since no information on regional differences can be obtained. Imaging techniques like high-resolution computed tomography (HRCT) provide further information but lack detailed information on specific airway responses. The aim of the present study was to improve the actual imaging techniques by subsequent analysis of the imaging data using computational fluid dynamics (CFD). We studied 14 mild to moderately severe asthmatics. Ten patients underwent HRCT before and 4h after inhalation of a novel long acting beta(2) agonist (LABA) that acts shortly after inhalation. Four patients were studied for chronic effects and underwent CT scans twice after adequate wash-out of bronchodilators. In the active group, a significant bronchodilator response was seen with a forced expiratory volume in 1s (FEV1) increase of 8.78 +/- -6.27% pred vs -3.38 +/- 6.87% pred in the control group. The changes in FEV1 correlated significantly with the changes in distal airway volume (r = 0.69, p = 0.007), total airway resistance (r = -0.73, p = 0.003) and distal airway resistance (r = -0.76, p = 0.002) as calculated with the CFD method. The changes in distal R(aw) were not fully homogeneous. In some patients with normal FEV1 at baseline, CFD-based changes in R(aw) were still detectable. We conclude that CFD calculations, based on airway geometries of asthmatic patients, provide additional information about changes in regional R(aw). All changes in the CFD-based calculated R(aw) significantly correlate with the observed changes in spirometric values therefore validating the CFD method for the studied application.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adrenergic beta-Agonists / pharmacology
  • Adrenergic beta-Agonists / therapeutic use
  • Adult
  • Airway Resistance / drug effects*
  • Airway Resistance / physiology
  • Amphetamines / pharmacology
  • Amphetamines / therapeutic use
  • Asthma / drug therapy
  • Asthma / physiopathology*
  • Bronchi / drug effects
  • Bronchi / pathology
  • Bronchi / physiopathology
  • Bronchodilator Agents / pharmacology*
  • Bronchodilator Agents / therapeutic use
  • Computational Biology / methods*
  • Computer Simulation
  • Female
  • Forced Expiratory Volume / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Hydroxyquinolines / pharmacology
  • Hydroxyquinolines / therapeutic use
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Biological
  • Quinolones / pharmacology
  • Quinolones / therapeutic use
  • Respiratory Function Tests / methods
  • Rheology
  • Spirometry
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods*
  • Total Lung Capacity / drug effects
  • Vital Capacity / drug effects


  • Adrenergic beta-Agonists
  • Amphetamines
  • Bronchodilator Agents
  • Hydroxyquinolines
  • Quinolones
  • carmoterol