Summary: VOLUME 87, NUMBER 5 P H Y S I C A L R E V I E W L E T T E R S 30 JULY 2001
Characterization of the Branching Structure of the Lung from "Macroscopic"
A. Majumdar,1,2 A. M. Alencar,1,2 S. V. Buldyrev,1 Z. Hantos,3 H. E. Stanley,1 and B. Suki2
Center for Polymer Studies and Department of Physics, Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts, 02215
Department of Biomedical Engineering, Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts, 02215
Department of Medical Informatics and Engineering, and Institute of Surgical Research, University of Szeged, Hungary
(Received 16 November 2000; published 12 July 2001)
We analyze the problem of fluid flow in a bifurcating structure containing random blockages that
can be removed by fluid pressure. We introduce an asymmetric tree model and find that the predicted
pressure-volume relation is connected to the distribution P n of the generation number n of the tree's
terminal segments. We use this relation to explore the branching structure of the lung by analyzing
experimental pressure-volume data from dog lungs. The P n extracted from the data using the model
agrees well with experimental data on the branching structure. We can thus obtain information about the
asymmetric structure of the lung from macroscopic, noninvasive pressure-volume measurements.
DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.87.058102 PACS numbers: 87.19.Rr, 87.19.Tt, 87.19.Uv, 87.80.Pa
The problem of fluid flow through bifurcating structures