Three-dimensional, unsteady simulation of alveolar respiration

Vladimir V. Kulish, José L. Lage, Connie C W Hsia, Robert L. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Scopus citations


A novel macroscopic gas transport model, derived from fundamental engineering principles, is used to simulate the three-dimensional, unsteady respiration process within the alveolar region of the lungs. The simulations, mimicking the single-breath technique for measuring the lung diffusing capacity for carbon-monoxide (CO), allow the prediction of the red blood cell (RBC) distribution effects on the lung diffusing capacity. Results, obtained through numerical simulations, unveil a strong relationship between the type of distribution and the lung diffusing capacity. Several RBC distributions are considered, namely: normal (random), uniform, center-cluster, and corner-cluster red cell distributions. A nondimensional correlation is obtained in terms of a geometric parameter characterizing the RBC distribution, and presented as a useful tool for predicting the RBC distribution effect on the lung diffusing capacity. The effect of red cell movement is not considered in the present study because CO does not equilibrate with capillary blood within the time spent by blood in the capillary. Hence, blood flow effect on CO diffusion is expected to be only marginal.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)609-616
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Biomechanical Engineering
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2002


  • Alveolus
  • Gas Diffusion
  • Lung Diffusing Capacity
  • Transient Numerical Simulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Physiology (medical)

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