The Open Biomedical Engineering Journal

ISSN: 1874-1207 ― Volume 15, 2021

Simulation of Bronchial Airflow in COPD Patients

L.F. Salcedo-Hernandez1, C.R. Torres-Sanmiguel1, *, G. Urriolagoitia-Sosa1, G.P. Torres-San Miguel2, L.A. Aguilar-Perez1, G. Urriolagoita-Calderon1
1 National Polytechnic Institute, Higher School of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering, Zacatenco Unit, Section of Postgraduate Studies and Research, 07738, Mexico City, Mexico
2 Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social, Clínica de trastornos de dormir del HGR 1 “Dr. Carlos Mac Gregor Sánchez Navarro”, 03103, Ciudad de México, Mexico



This research tackles the problem of assessing airflow inside both a healthy and a COPD bronchus ramification, by a Finite Element Method (FEM) computational mode.


Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is considered the third leading cause of death worldwide, smoking being the most common risk factor. In the case of emphysema, the appearance of bullae in the upper and middle lobes is frequent.


Bullae tend to increase their size progressively with time, severely clogging bronchi. In this research, bullae with different sizes are modelled as semi-spheres located at the internal wall of a 3D tomographic-based bronchi model.


Several numerical analyses were performed by applying fluid interaction focused on the behaviour of flow through a fifth generations bronchus bifurcation in different cases and degrees of the advance of COPD.


The outcome provides the gradients of flow speed and pressure within the bronchus ramification in the considered cases.


The methodology herein proposed is applicable to determine the airflow within any patient’s bronchus bifurcation were bullae appear, and thereby to assess and improve the design of custom treatments.

Keywords: Biomechanics, FEM, TAC, Airflow, COPD, Bullae.

Article Information

Identifiers and Pagination:

Year: 2020
Volume: 14
First Page: 20
Last Page: 27
Publisher Id: TOBEJ-14-20
DOI: 10.2174/1874120702014010020

Article History:

Received Date: 9/6/2020
Revision Received Date: 28/8/2020
Acceptance Date: 4/9/2020
Electronic publication date: 15/10/2020
Collection year: 2020

© 2020 Salcedo-Hernandez et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Instituto Politécnico Nacional, Escuela Superior de Ingeniería Mecánica y Eléctrica, Unidad Zacatenco, Sección de Estudios de Posgrado e Investigación, 07738, Ciudad de México, Mexico; E-mail:

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