Airway reopening: theoretical and experimental studies

P. Howell*, K. Cassidy, N. Gavriely, M. Glucksberg, J. B. Grotberg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


It is well-known that surface tension in the thin liquid film lining the airways can cause an instability in the film which may lead eventually to closure of the airway. This phenomenon occurs when a liquid bridge forms or when the surface tension is large enough to collapse the airway. The purpose of this study is to investigate the reopening of such an airway via propagation and eventual rupture of a liquid bridge. A mathematical analysis is carried out using lubrication theory and numerical methods. The bridge moves axially due to a pressure gradient and its speed depends on the airway wall flexibility, the depth and viscous properties of the upstream and downstream airway liquid lining, and the surface tension. Comparisons are made with earlier theoretical work (Gaver et al, 1995) which examines the reopening of a completely closed, liquid-filled airway. Experiments of liquid bolus propagation in glass capillary tubes are presented which compare favorably with the theoretical predictions for appropriate parameter choices. Applications to delivery of exogenous surfactants are also discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)A806
JournalFASEB Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Biotechnology


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