Modeling the upper airway: A precursor to personalized surgical interventions for the treatment of sleep apnea
© 2020 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. An accurate benchtop model was developed to mimic the different forms of human upper airway collapse in adult sleep apnea patients. This was done via modeling the airway through digital imaging. Airway representative models were then produced in two steps via a customized pneumatic extrusion 3D printing system. This allowed the pressure of collapse and planes of collapse to be manipulated to accurately represent those seen in sleep apnea patients. The pressure flow relationships of the collapsible airways were then studied by inserting the collapsible airways into a module that allowed the chamber pressure (Pc) around the airways to be increased in order to cause collapse. Airways collapsed at physiologically relevant pressures (5.32–9.58 cmH2O). Nickel and iron magnetic polymers were then printed into the airway in order to investigate the altering of the airway collapse. The introduction of the nickel and iron magnetic polymers increased the pressure of collapse substantially (7.38–17.51 cmH2O). Finally, the force produced by the interaction of the magnetic polymer and the magnetic module was studied by measuring a sample of the magnetic airways. The peak force in (48.59–163.34 cN) and the distance over which the forces initially registered (6.8–9.7 mm) were measured using a force transducer. This data set may be used to inform future treatment of sleep apnea, specifically the production of an implantable polymer for surgical intervention.