The scheme of Horsfield et al. for describing the pulmonary airway tree (J Appl Physiol 52: 21-26, 1982) catalogs each airway according to its order and the difference in order of its two daughters (denoted Δ). Although this scheme captures the natural asymmetry in the airway tree, it is still deterministic, because it assumes that all airways of a given order are the same; yet such variability is extremely important in determining the overall behavior of the lungs. We therefore analyzed complete lung lobes from three mature and two immature rabbits and determined the Horsfield order and Δ of every airway down to the terminal bronchioles. We also measured the diameter of each airway. This allowed us to determine the average structure of the rabbit airway tree, the variation about this average, and also how the structures of mature and immature airway trees compare. We found some variation in branching asymmetry and airway diameter at a given order between animals but no evidence of systematic differences in structure between mature and immature lungs. We found evidence of a difference in the branching structure of the peripheral vs. the central part of the airway tree (the break point being around order 20). We also determined the nature of the variation in Δ and diameter as a function of order, which should be valuable for the development of computer models seeking to encapsulate the naturally occurring regional variation in airway geometry in the normal rabbit lung.
- Airway tree
- Lung function
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
- Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation