Computational fluid dynamics simulation to compare large volume irrigation and continuous spraying during nasal irrigation

Int Forum Allergy Rhinol. 2020 Jan;10(1):41-48. doi: 10.1002/alr.22458. Epub 2019 Oct 7.


Background: Nasal irrigation is now widely recognized as a treatment for chronic rhinosinusitis and during the postoperative period. However, there are no guidelines for performing irrigation. This study used computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulation objective physical parameters to optimize and increase the efficiency of nasal irrigation and to compare large-volume, manual, and gravity pressure irrigation vs small-volume continuous spraying.

Methods: A 3-dimensional (3D) sinonasal model was constructed from a healthy adult high-resolution computed tomography (CT) scan. The 3D nasal model was constructed using a tetrahedral and hex-dominant mesh grid with TGRID™ 16 (ANSYS Inc., Villeurbanne, France) software. A structured hex mesh was created inside the domain using the Hexcore meshing method. The final mesh had a total of 9.6 × 106 cells with an average size of 0.29 mm3 , or an average volume of 2.42 × 10-2 mm3 . Navier-Stokes equations were resolved with the standard k - ε model.

Results: Large-volume irrigation (15 mL/s) covered all zones (136 to 310 cm2 ) rapidly with strong shear stress and prolonged contact time (310 mPa 3.26 seconds for gravity mode and 280 mPa 3.35 seconds for manual pressure mode). Continuous spraying (3 mL/second) covered all areas (76 to 310 cm2 ) but with far less volume, more slowly, with low shear stress (50 mPa), and with shorter contact time (1.84 seconds). The surface wetted by time in contact was 135.4, 113.9, and 46.6 cm2 for gravity, manual pressure mode, and continuous spraying, respectively.

Conclusion: CFD simulation visualizes the circulation of water during nasal irrigation and makes it possible to determine objective parameters to decide which mode of irrigation may be used.

Keywords: chronic rhinosinusitis; computational fluid dynamics; computer modeling for nasal irrigation; nasal douches; nasal irrigation; nasal spray.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Computer Simulation*
  • Humans
  • Hydrodynamics*
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional
  • Male
  • Models, Biological*
  • Nasal Cavity / anatomy & histology
  • Nasal Cavity / diagnostic imaging
  • Nasal Cavity / physiology
  • Nasal Lavage*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed