Aerosol deposition and flow resistance in obstructed airways were determined from five mathematical and experimental airway models. The first three models were theoretical and based upon Weibel's symmetrical lung model with 1) uniform reduction of airway diameter in various groups of airway generations; 2) obstruction of a few major airways such that a severe uneven flow distribution occurs in the lung; 3) focal constriction of selected large airways. In model 3, an empirical formula was utilized to assess deposition and resistance in the constricted airways. The remaining two models were tested experimentally; 4) oscillation of a compliant wall in a straight tube and 5) two-phase gas-liquid flow utilizing human sputum in a rigid branching tube. In models 1, 2, and 3, airway resistance increased to a greater extent than did the increase of aerosol deposition except when small airways were obstructed in model 1. Here, the increase of aerosol deposition was slightly higher than the rise in airway resistance. A sharp increase of aerosol deposition with a minimal increase of flow resistance was demonstrated in models 4 and 5. These data indicate that aerosol deposition may be a more sensitive indicator of airway abnormalities than overall airway resistance in small airways obstruction, during oscillation of large and medium airway walls, and when excessive secretions within the airways move with a wave or slug motion.
- Copyright © 1983 the American Physiological Society