Role of pulmonary surfactant in airway closure: A computational study

D. R. Otis, M. Johnson, T. J. Pedley, R. D. Kamm*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

127 Scopus citations


A numerical model that stimulates airway closure by liquid bridging during expiration has been developed. The effects of both surfactant and time- varying geometry have been included; the model determines the liquid layer flow resulting from a surface tension (Rayleigh) instability, and the computation traces the film's development to closure, yielding pressure, velocity, surface shape, and surfactant concentration distributions. It is found that surfactant is effective in retarding or eliminating liquid bridging through the reduction of the mean surface tension and the action of surface tension gradients. The former effect is also critical in minimizing the magnitude of the negative pressure in the liquid layer and thus presumably in reducing the tendency for airway compliant collapse.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1323-1333
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of applied physiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1993


  • Rayleigh instability
  • airway edema
  • airway liquid
  • airway patency
  • computational model
  • gas trapping
  • liquid bridging
  • liquid plugging
  • residual volume
  • surface tension

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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