German Medical Science GMS Publishing House; Düsseldorf
GMS Current Topics in Otorhinolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery;
Heating and humidification of the respiratory air are the main functions of the nasal airways in addition to cleansing and olfaction. Optimal nasal air conditioning is mandatory for an ideal pulmonary gas exchange in order to avoid desiccation and adhesion of the alveolar capillary bed. The complex three-dimensional anatomical structure of the nose makes it impossible to perform detailed in vivo studies on intranasal heating and humidification within the entire nasal airways applying various technical set-ups. The main problem of in vivo temperature and humidity measurements is a poor spatial and time resolution. Therefore, in vivo measurements are feasible only to a restricted extent, solely providing single temperature values as the complete nose is not entirely accessible. Therefore, data on the overall performance of the nose are only based on one single measurement within each nasal segment. In vivo measurements within the entire nose are not feasible. These serious technical issues concerning in vivo measurements led to a large number of numerical simulation projects in the last few years providing novel information about the complex functions of the nasal airways. In general, numerical simulations merely calculate predictions in a computational model, e.g. a realistic nose model, depending on the setting of the boundary conditions. Therefore, numerical simulations achieve only approximations of a possible real situation. The aim of this review is the synopsis of the technical expertise on the field of in vivo nasal air conditioning, the novel information of numerical simulations and the current state of knowledge on the influence of nasal and sinus surgery on nasal air conditioning.