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Leonard S, Strasser W, Whittle JS, Volakis LI, DeBellis RJ, Prichard R, Atwood CW, Dungan GC. Reducing aerosol dispersion by high flow therapy in COVID-19: High resolution computational fluid dynamics simulations of particle behavior during high velocity nasal insufflation with a simple surgical mask. Journal of the American College of Emergency Physicians open. 2020 Aug 1; 1(4):578-591.
OBJECTIVE: All respiratory care represents some risk of becoming an aerosol-generating procedure (AGP) during COVID-19 patient management. Personal protective equipment (PPE) and environmental control/engineering is advised. High velocity nasal insufflation (HVNI) and high flow nasal cannula (HFNC) deliver high flow oxygen (HFO) therapy, established as a competent means of supporting oxygenation for acute respiratory distress patients, including that precipitated by COVID-19. Although unlikely to present a disproportionate particle dispersal risk, AGP from HFO continues to be a concern. Previously, we published a preliminary model. Here, we present a subsequent highresolution simulation (higher complexity/reliability) to provide a more accurate and precise particle characterization on the effect of surgical masks on patients during HVNI, low-flow oxygen therapy (LFO2), and tidal breathing. METHODS: This in silico modeling study of HVNI, LFO2, and tidal breathing presents ANSYS fluent computational fluid dynamics simulations that evaluate the effect of Type I surgical mask use over patient face on particle/droplet behavior. RESULTS: This in silico modeling simulation study of HVNI (40 L min) with a simulated surgical mask suggests 88.8% capture of exhaled particulate mass in the mask, compared to 77.4% in LFO2 (6 L min) capture, with particle distribution escaping to the room ( > 1 m from face) lower for HVNI+Mask versus LFO2+Mask (8.23% vs 17.2%). The overwhelming proportion of particulate escape was associated with mask-fit designed model gaps. Particle dispersion was associated with lower velocity. CONCLUSIONS: These simulations suggest employing a surgical mask over the HVNI interface may be useful in reduction of particulate mass distribution associated with AGPs.