Multiscale image-based modeling and simulation of gas flow and particle transport in the human lungs

Wiley Interdiscip Rev Syst Biol Med. Sep-Oct 2013;5(5):643-55. doi: 10.1002/wsbm.1234. Epub 2013 Jul 10.


Improved understanding of structure and function relationships in the human lungs in individuals and subpopulations is fundamentally important to the future of pulmonary medicine. Image-based measures of the lungs can provide sensitive indicators of localized features, however to provide a better prediction of lung response to disease, treatment, and environment, it is desirable to integrate quantifiable regional features from imaging with associated value-added high-level modeling. With this objective in mind, recent advances in computational fluid dynamics (CFD) of the bronchial airways-from a single bifurcation symmetric model to a multiscale image-based subject-specific lung model-will be reviewed. The interaction of CFD models with local parenchymal tissue expansion-assessed by image registration-allows new understanding of the interplay between environment, hot spots where inhaled aerosols could accumulate, and inflammation. To bridge ventilation function with image-derived central airway structure in CFD, an airway geometrical modeling method that spans from the model 'entrance' to the terminal bronchioles will be introduced. Finally, the effects of turbulent flows and CFD turbulence models on aerosol transport and deposition will be discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biological Transport
  • Gases / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Hydrodynamics
  • Lung / diagnostic imaging
  • Lung / physiopathology*
  • Models, Biological
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / diagnostic imaging
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / physiopathology
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed


  • Gases