Characteristic models of the upper conducting airways are needed to evaluate the performance of existing pharmaceutical inhalers and to develop new respiratory drug delivery strategies. Previous studies have focused on the development of characteristic mouth–throat (MT) geometries for orally inhaled products; however, characteristic upper tracheobronchial (TB) geometries are currently not available. In this study, a new characteristic model of the upper TB airways for an average adult male was developed based on an analysis of new and existing anatomical data. Validated computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations were used to evaluate the deposition of monodisperse and realistic polydisperse aerosols from multiple inhalers. Comparisons of deposition results between the new model and a simpler geometry were used to identify the effects of different anatomical features on aerosol deposition. The CFD simulations demonstrated a good match to regional pharmaceutical aerosol deposition from in vitro experiments in the same geometry. The deposition of both monodisperse and pharmaceutical aerosols was increased in the new TB geometry as a result of additional anatomical detail on a regional and highly localized basis. Tracheal features including an accurate coronal angle, asymmetry, and curvature produced a skewed laryngeal jet and significantly increased regional deposition. Branch curvature and realistic cross-sections increased deposition in the remainder of the TB model. A hexahedral mesh style was utilized to provide the best solution. In conclusion, a number of physiological features in the upper TB region were shown to influence deposition and should be included in a characteristic model of respiratory drug delivery.

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