Droplet applicator module for reproducible and controlled endoscopic laryngeal adductor reflex stimulation.

J F Fast, K A Westermann, M-H Laves,M Jungheim,M Ptok,T Ortmaier,L A Kahrs


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This work presents a droplet applicator module to generate stable droplets with different muzzle energies for the reproducible endoscopic stimulation of the laryngeal adductor reflex (LAR). The LAR is a protective reflex of the human larynx; an abnormal LAR performance may cause aspiration pneumonia. A pathological LAR can be detected by evaluating its onset latency. The reflex can be triggered by shooting a droplet onto the laryngeal mucosa, which is referred to as Microdroplet Impulse Testing of the LAR (MIT-LAR). Stimulation intensity variation is desired as the reflex threshold may vary inter-individually. The kinetic energy of a droplet after detachment from the nozzle, i.e., its muzzle energy, is considered an appropriate metric for the LAR stimulation intensity. In this work, a suitable nozzle channel geometry is identified based on the experimental evaluation of droplet formation using three different nozzle channel geometries. Two nontoxic additives are evaluated regarding their effect on fluid properties and droplet formation. The range of achievable droplet muzzle energies is determined by high-speed cinematography in association with a physically motivated model of the macroscopic droplet motion. The experimental results show that sodium chloride is a suitable additive to enhance droplet stability in the studied parameter range with the proposed system. Droplet muzzle energy variation from 0.02 mu J to 1.37 mu J was achieved while preserving the formation of a single stimulation droplet. These results are an important prerequisite for a safe and reproducible LAR stimulation by MIT-LAR, which could also help to further elucidate the physiological mechanisms underlying this laryngeal reflex.
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