Numerical modeling of sound propagation in the airways requires accurate knowledge of the airway geometry. These models are often validated using human and animal experiments. While many studies documented the geometric details of the human airways, information about the geometry of pig airways is scarcer. In addition, the morphology of animal airways can be significantly different from that of humans. The objective of this study is to measure the airway diameter, length and bifurcation angles in domestic pigs using computed tomography. After imaging the lungs of 3 pigs, segmentation software tools were used to extract the geometry of the airway lumen. The airway dimensions were then measured from the resulting 3 D models for the first 10 airway generations. Results showed that the size and morphology of the airways of different animals were similar. The measured airway dimensions were compared with those of the human airways. While the trachea diameter was found to be comparable to the adult human, the diameter, length and branching angles of other airways were noticeably different from that of humans. For example, pigs consistently had an early airway branching from the trachea that feeds the superior (top) right lung lobe proximal to the carina. This branch is absent in the human airways. These results suggested that the human geometry may not be a good approximation of the pig airways and may contribute to increasing the errors when the human airway geometric values are used in computational models of the pig chest.
Alterations in the structure and function of the pulmonary system that occur in disease or injury often give rise to measurable spectral, spatial and/or temporal changes in lung sound production and transmission. These changes, if properly quantified, might provide additional information about the etiology, severity and location of trauma, injury, or pathology. With this in mind, the authors are developing a comprehensive computer simulation model of pulmonary acoustics, known as The Audible Human Project™. Its purpose is to improve our understanding of pulmonary acoustics and to aid in interpreting measurements of sound and vibration in the lungs generated by airway insonification, natural breath sounds, and external stimuli on the chest surface, such as that used in elastography. As a part of this development process, finite element (FE) models were constructed of an excised pig lung that also underwent experimental studies. Within these models, the complex airway structure was created via two methods: x-ray CT image segmentation and through an algorithmic means called Constrained Constructive Optimization (CCO). CCO was implemented to expedite the segmentation process, as airway segments can be grown digitally. These two approaches were used in FE simulations of the surface motion on the lung as a result of sound input into the trachea. Simulation results were compared to experimental measurements. By testing how close these models are to experimental measurements, we are evaluating whether CCO can be used as a means to efficiently construct physiologically relevant airway trees.