The Bates Research Lab studies the relationship between airway anatomy, movement, and airflow in patients with various airway diseases. In patients with airway disease, the airway may become too narrow or collapse, causing high resistance to airflow and leading to breathing difficulties.
Our research uses virtual models of the airway with realistic, patient-specific airway anatomy and motion, which we capture with novel cine Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) techniques. We can then simulate how the air moves within the airway during breathing using computational fluid dynamics (CFD) to model respiratory airflow. These CFD simulations calculate the speed and pressure of the airflow and from that information we can calculate many metrics which inform us about the airway disease including airway resistance, breathing effort, and the neuromuscular control of structures surrounding the airway. We study a broad range of airway diseases and are particularly focused on Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) and tracheomalacia.