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Human Nasal Airflow

Computational Investigation of Nasal Symptoms

Nasal sinus disease is one of the most common medical conditions, affecting an estimated 30 million adults in U.S. with an annual health expenditure of $5.8 billion. In this project, CT-based CFD modeling techniques are used to provide a quantitative evaluation of the nasal pathology for individual patients.


Chengyu Li, Jianbo Jiang, Haibo Dong, and Kai Zhao, “Computational modeling and validation of human nasal airflow under various breathing conditions,” Journal of Biomechanics 64, 59-68 (2017). [Link]

Empty Nose Syndrome

Empty nose syndrome (ENS) is a rare but debilitating clinical syndrome that typically occurs after surgical therapy. The most common symptom is a paradoxical sensation of nasal obstruction, despite an open nasal airway. ENS patients also suffer from varying degrees of nasal crusting, dryness, nasal discharge, and facial pain. In this project, the CFD simulations are applied to explore the etiology of ENS from a fluid dynamics perspective.

  1. Chengyu Li, Alexander A. Farag, James K. Leach, Bhakthi Desphande, Adam Jacobowitz, Bradley A. Otto, and Kai Zhao, "Computational fluid dynamics and trigeminal sensory examinations of empty nose syndrome patients," The Laryngoscope 127, E176-E184 (2017). [Link]

  2. Chengyu Li, Alexander A. Farag, Guillermo Maza, Sam McGhee, Michael Ciccone, Bhakthi Desphande, Edmund Pribitkin, Bradley A. Otto, and Kai Zhao, "Investigation of the abnormal nasal aerodynamics and trigeminal functions among empty nose syndrome patients," International Forum of Allergy & Rhinology 8, 444-452 (2018). [Link]

  3. Jennifer Malik, Chengyu Li, Guillermo Maza, Alexander Farag, Jillian Krebs, Sam McGhee, Gabriela Zappitelli, Bhakthi Deshpande, Bradley Otto, and Kai Zhao, “Computational fluid dynamics analysis of aggressive turbinate reductions: Is it a culprit of empty nose syndrome?” International Forum of Allergy & Rhinology 9, 891-899 (2019). [Link]

  4. Guillermo Maza, Chengyu Li, Jillian Krebs, Bradley Otto, Alexander Farag, Ricardo Carrau, Kai Zhao, "Computational fluid dynamics after endoscopic endonasal skull based surgery: Association with empty nose syndrome?" International Forum of Allergy & Rhinology 9, 204-211 (2019). [Link]

  5. Jennifer Malik, Andrew Thamboo, Sachi Dholakia, Nicole Borchard, Sam McGhee, Chengyu Li, Kai Zhao, Jayakar Nayak, “The cotton test redistributes nasal airflow in patients with empty nose syndrome, ” International Forum of Allergy & Rhinology, accepted (2020). [Link]​

Nasal Septal Perforation

Nasal septal perforation (NSP) may occur due to previous surgery, trauma, inflammatory disease, and nasal spray utilization. Symptoms accompanying NSP include whistling, crusting, epistaxis, nasal obstruction, and postnasal drip. This project aims to analyze the flow disturbance and wall shear stress (WSS) distribution around NSP margins for the patients with large NSPs (>2 cm).

  1. Bradley Otto, Chengyu Li, Alexander Farag, Benjamin Bush, Jillian Krebs, Ryan Hutcheson, Kanghyun Kim, and Kai Zhao, "Computational fluid dynamics evaluation of posterior septectomy as a viable treatment option for large septal perforation," International Forum of Allergy & Rhinology 7, 718-725 (2017). [Link]

  2. Chengyu Li, Guillermo Maza, Alexander Farag, Jillian Krebs, Bhakthi Deshpande, Bradley Otto, and Kai Zhao, “Asymptomatic vs. symptomatic septal perforations: A computational fluid dynamics examination,” International Forum of Allergy & Rhinology 9, 883-890 (2019). [Link]​

Effect of Nasal Structural Features on Olfactory Sensitivity

Nasal airflow that effectively transports ambient odors to the olfactory receptors is important for human olfaction. Yet, the impact of nasal anatomical variations on the airflow pattern and olfactory function is not fully understood. Our study revealed a potential impact of normal variation in nasal structure and aerodynamic on normative variations in olfactory sensitivity.


Chengyu Li, Jianbo Jiang, Kanghyun Kim, Bradley Otto, Alexander Farag, Beverly Cowart, Edmund Pribitkin, Pamela Dalton, and Kai Zhao, "Nasal structural and aerodynamic features that may benefit normal olfactory sensitivity," Chemical Senses 43, 229-237 (2018). [Link]

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