Flow behavior is investigated in the esophageal tract in an idealized experimental model of tracheoesophageal speech. The tracheoesophageal prosthesis is idealized as a first-order approximation using a straight, constant diameter tube. The flow is scaled according to Reynolds, Strouhal, and Euler numbers to ensure dynamic similarity. Flow pulsatility is produced by a driven orifice that approximates the kinematics of the pharyngoesophageal segment during tracheoesophageal speech. Particle image velocimetry data are acquired in three orthogonal planes as the flow exits the model prosthesis and enters the esophageal tract. Contrary to prior investigations performed in steady flow with the prosthesis oriented in-line with the flow direction, the fluid dynamics are shown to be highly unsteady, suggesting that the esophageal pressure field will be similarly complex. A large vortex ring is formed at the inception of each phonatory cycle, followed by the formation of a persistent jet. This vortex ring appears to remain throughout the entire cycle due to the continued production of vorticity resulting from entrainment between the prosthesis jet and the curved esophageal walls. Mean flow in the axial direction of the esophagus produces significant stretching of the vortex throughout the phonatory cycle. The stagnation point created by the jet impinging on the esophageal wall varies throughout the cycle due to fluctuations in the jet trajectory, which most likely arises due to flow separation within the model prosthesis. Applications to tracheoesophageal speech, including shortcomings of the model and proposed future plans, are discussed.
Experiments in Fluids – Springer Journals
Published: Feb 17, 2016
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