Background: The most important target cell of SARS-CoV-2 is Type II pneumocyte which produces and secretes pulmonary surfactant (PS) that prevents alveolar collapse. PS instillation therapy is dramatically effective for infant respiratory distress syndrome but has been clinically ineffective for ARDS. Nowadays, ARDS is regarded as non-cardiogenic pulmonary edema with vascular hyper-permeability regardless of direct relation to PS dysfunction. However, there is a possibility that this ineffectiveness of PS instillation for ARDS is caused by insufficient delivery. Then, we performed PS instillation simulation with realistic human airway models by the use of computational fluid dynamics, and investigated how instilled PS would move in the liquid layer covering the airway wall and reach to alveolar regions. Methods: Two types of 3D human airway models were prepared: one was from the trachea to the lobular bronchi and the other was from a subsegmental bronchus to respiratory bronchioles. The thickness of the liquid layer covering the airway was assigned as 14 % of the inner radius of the airway segment. The liquid layer was assumed to be replaced by an instilled PS. The flow rate of the instilled PS was assigned a constant value, which was determined by the total amount and instillation time in clinical use. The PS concentration of the liquid layer during instillation was computed by solving the advective-diffusion equation. Results: The driving pressure from the trachea to respiratory bronchioles was calculated at 317 cmH2O, which is about 20 times of a standard value in conventional PS instillation method where the driving pressure was given by difference between inspiratory and end-expiratory pressures of a ventilator. It means that almost all PS does not reach the alveolar regions but moves to and fro within the airway according to the change in ventilator pressure. The driving pressure from subsegmental bronchus was calculated at 273 cm H2O, that is clinically possible by wedge instillation under bronchoscopic observation. Conclusions: The simulation study has revealed that selective wedge instillation under bronchoscopic observation should be tried for COVID-19 pneumonia before the onset of ARDS. It will be also useful for preventing secondary lung fibrosis.
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