, Volume 38, Issue 3, pp 1204-1215
Date: 14 Jan 2010

Biofluid Mechanics of Special Organs and the Issue of System Control

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Abstract

In the field of fluid flow within the human body, focus has been placed on the transportation of blood in the systemic circulation since the discovery of that system; but, other fluids and fluid flow phenomena pervade the body. Some of the most fascinating fluid flow phenomena within the human body involve fluids other than blood and a service other than transport—the lymphatic and pulmonary systems are two striking examples. While transport is still involved in both cases, this is not the only service which they provide and blood is not the only fluid involved. In both systems, filtration, extraction, enrichment, and in general some “treatment” of the fluid itself is the primary function. The study of the systemic circulation has also been conventionally limited to treating the system as if it were an open-loop system governed by the laws of fluid mechanics alone, independent of physiological controls and regulations. This implies that system failures can be explained fully in terms of the laws of fluid mechanics, which of course is not the case. In this paper we examine the clinical implications of these issues and of the special biofluid mechanics issues involved in the lymphatic and pulmonary systems.