Respiratory system simulations and modeling.
Simulators and models of the respiratory system range from simple mechanical devices to complex systems that include sophisticated computers. These systems have considerable utility in clinician education, guiding therapies, evaluating new devices and techniques, and in improving our understanding of the cardiorespiratory system. Simulators and models are of 3 types: signs-and-symptoms simulators, anatomic models, and physiologic models. Signs-and-symptoms simulators range from human actors to computer-controlled patient mannequins. Clinical scenarios, from minor abnormalities to catastrophic emergencies, can be simulated. As has been found with aircraft cockpit simulators, improved clinician performance in simulated emergencies should translate into improved performance in real patient-care situations. Anatomic modeling can simulate basic anatomy for training clinicians. Three-dimensional reconstruction of the airways, using real patient data, can help to plan therapy, understand the disease process, and warn of safety issues. Anatomic modeling with radiographs and magnetic resonance images, sometimes created using radiolabeled tracer gases, can create 3-dimensional images of regional lung anatomy and function. Physiologic signals such as carbon dioxide production, oxygen consumption, and washout/washin of various tracer gases can be used to model ventilation-perfusion and ventilation-volume relationships, and those models can improve understanding of disease processes and guide therapies.
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