This paper focuses on the impact of including nasal cavity on airflow through a human upper respiratory tract. A computational study is carried out on a realistic geometry, reconstructed from CT scans of a subject. The geometry includes nasal cavity, pharynx, larynx, trachea and two generations of airway bifurcations below trachea. The unstructured mesh generation procedure is discussed in some length due to the complex nature of the nasal cavity structure and poor scan resolution normally available from hospitals. The fluid dynamic studies have been carried out on the geometry with and without the inclusion of the nasal cavity. The characteristic-based split scheme along with the one-equation Spalart–Allmaras turbulence model is used in its explicit form to obtain flow solutions at steady state. Results reveal that the exclusion of nasal cavity significantly influences the resulting solution. In particular, the location of recirculating flow in the trachea is dramatically different when the truncated geometry is used. In addition, we also address the differences in the solution due to imposed, equally distributed and proportionally distributed flow rates at inlets (both nares). The results show that the differences in flow pattern between the two inlet conditions are not confined to the nasal cavity and nasopharyngeal region, but they propagate down to the trachea. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
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