• Eyman Alahmadi

Student thesis: Phd


Voluntary coughs are used as a diagnostic tool to detect lung diseases. Understanding the mechanics of a cough is therefore crucial to accurately interpreting the test results. A cough is characterised by a dynamic compression of the airways, resulting in large flow velocities and producing transient peak expiratory flows. Existing models for pulmonary flow have one or more of the following limitations: 1) they assume quasi-steady flows, 2) they assume low speed flows, 3) they assume a symmetrical branching airway system. The main objective of this thesis is to develop a model for a cough in the branching pulmonary airway system. First, the time-dependent one-dimensional equations for flow in a compliant tube is used to simulate a cough in a single airway. Using anatomical and physiological data, the tube law coupling the fluid and airway mechanics is constructed to accurately mimic the airway behaviour in its inflated and collapsed states. Next, a novel model for air flow in an airway bifurcation is constructed. The model is the first to capture successfully subcritical and supercritical flows across the bifurcation and allows for free time evolution from one case to another. The model is investigated by simulating a cough in both symmetric and asymmetric airway bifurcations. Finally, a cough model for the complete branching airway system is developed. The model takes into account the key factors involved in a cough; namely, the compliance of the lungs and the airways, the coughing effort and the sudden opening of the glottis. The reliability of the model is assessed by comparing the model predictions with previous experimental results. The model captures the main characteristics of forced expiatory flows; namely, the flow limitation phenomenon (the flow out of the lungs becomes independent of the applied expiratory effort) and the negative effort dependence phenomenon (the flow out of the lungs decreases with increasing expiratory effort). The model also gives a good qualitative agreement with the measured values of airway resistance. The location of the collapsed airway segment during forced expiration is, however, inconsistent with previous experimental results. The effect of changing the model parameters on the model predictions is therefore discussed.
Date of Award31 Dec 2012
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorMatthias Heil (Supervisor)


  • 1D Model
  • Junction Model
  • Subcritical Flow
  • Supercritical Flow
  • Forced Expiration
  • Pulmonary Airway Bifurcation
  • Unsteady Flow
  • Cough
  • Runge-Kutta Discontinuous Galerkin Method

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