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Keywords:

  • lung airway;
  • bifurcation model;
  • anatomical branched structures;
  • CT image;
  • simulated annealing method

Abstract

A flexible mathematical model of an asymmetric bronchial airway bifurcation is presented. The bifurcation structure is automatically determined after the user specifies geometric parameters: radius of parent airway, radii of daughter airways, radii of curvature of the daughter branch toroids, bifurcation angles, and radius of curvature of carina ridge. Detailed shape in the region where the three airways merge is defined by several explicit functions and can be changed with ease in accordance with observed lung structure. These functions take into account the blunt shape of the carina, the smooth transition from the outer transition zone to the inner one, and the shift in carinal ridge starting position as a function of bifurcation asymmetry. We validated the bifurcation model by comparing it to a computed tomography image of a rat lung cast. Three-dimensional representations of the bifurcation geometry can be viewed at http://mae.ucdavis.edu/wexler/lungs/bifurc.htm. Anat Rec, 291:379–389, 2008. © 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.