Development of characteristic airway bifurcations in cystic fibrosis

Karl Bass, Morgan L. Thomas, Mariette P.C. Kemner-van de Corput, Harm A.W.M. Tiddens, P. Worth Longest*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


The objective of this study was to develop mathematically described characteristic tracheobronchial bifurcations that are representative of aerosol transport and deposition in the intermediate airways of children with cystic fibrosis (CF), where bronchiectasis is a major contributor to changes in lung anatomy. Realistic airway models in the region of bifurcations B4-B7 were extracted from CT scans of children that were scored as having either low (CT-Low) or moderate (CT-Mod) CF lung disease and served as a basis for comparison with characteristic models. Aerosol deposition characteristics in these CT-extracted models were compared with a previously developed baseline stochastic individual path model (Baseline SIP), based on mathematically defined physiologically realistic bifurcations (PRBs), and new characteristic PRB geometries with modifications made to account for the CF disease state. The Baseline SIP models provided a poor approximation of aerosol deposition in the scan-extracted geometries, as expected. In contrast, the new characteristic (modified) PRB geometries adequately captured deposition consistent with the scan-extracted geometries across the two disease states considered for multiple particle sizes and inhalation flow rates. This was surprising considering that the modified PRB geometries, which can be mathematically specified, only captured an expanded bifurcation region and extended carinal curvature, both representative of bronchiectasis, and neglected asymmetry, surface roughness and non-circular branch cross-sections. In conclusion, the new characteristic PRB geometries adequately captured the deposition characteristics of scan-extracted airway models and can be implemented to represent airway structures in the intermediate and likely deeper lung regions of children with CF for future complete-airway modeling studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1143-1164
Number of pages22
JournalAerosol Science and Technology
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jun 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Research reported in this publication was supported by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R01HD087339. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 American Association for Aerosol Research.


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