Explore This IssueAugust 2012
Vishal Dhandha, BS, a fourth-year medical student at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill School of Medicine, took a year off from his med school curriculum to spend researching in the university’s department of otolaryngology. His poster, “Effects of Maxillary Antrostomy Configuration and Size on Nasal Spray Deposition in the Maxillary Sinus: A Virtual Surgery Study Using Computational Fluid Dynamics,” won first place in the Allergy/Rhinology category.
ENT Today: What is the research focus of your poster?
The research for our poster focuses on the use of computer simulation of nasal airflow and drug delivery in 3-D models of functional endoscopic sinus surgery. Our analyses utilize techniques of computational fluid dynamics, which uses computer software to calculate fluid flow across a defined surface. This technique has been used successfully in the study of nasal airway obstruction and, to a more limited degree, in chronic rhinosinusitis.
For our project, we created a 3-D model of a patient after surgery and virtually modified it to represent different potential surgical interventions. To our knowledge, this “virtual surgery” hasn’t been studied before in patients with chronic rhinosinusitis who are undergoing surgery. For the poster, we focused specifically on drug delivery via nasal sprays to the maxillary sinus, though there are other variables that we can also analyze.
ENT Today: How did you become interested in this topic?
One of my goals upon entering medical school was to graduate with significant research experience, and so I decided to pursue a year-long research position after the completion of my third year of school. My mentor, Dr. Adam Zanation, suggested that one of his ongoing projects, which focuses on computer simulation of 3-D models of sinus surgery, would be a good topic to pursue for my research year.
The idea of virtual surgery and computer simulation of nasal airflow was particularly interesting to me because it is an emerging technology and, to be completely honest, it sounded cool and futuristic.
Furthermore, photo editing and graphics design is a hobby of mine, and this project allowed me to put those skills to use through the creation of our 3-D models from CT scan data. I also find the potential clinical applications—improved pre-operative planning and prediction of outcome as well as “virtual clinical trials” through the comparison of novel surgical techniques—of this research to be exciting.
ENT Today: Are you planning to further pursue this research?
Our research is part of an ongoing, prospective clinical trial, and we are continuing to enroll patients in the study. Our goal is to have a large cohort of patients so that we may draw definitive conclusions with regard to this topic. We also hope to expand our analysis to other parameters of nasal airway physiology and other drug delivery systems, such as nebulizers.