Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Engineering (MSE)


Mechanical Engineering

First Committee Member

Woosoon Yim

Second Committee Member

Yi-Tung Chen

Third Committee Member

Zhiyong Wang

Fourth Committee Member

Pushkin Kachroo

Number of Pages



Predictive modeling to increase treatment success rates for surgical procedures is becoming more common in the scientific community. For obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), modeling has been predominately performed using computers as opposed to experimental models. Computer simulation saves time by eliminating the need to fabricate complex experimental models but comes at the expense of insight gained through physical observations made in real time. Experimental models for studying OSA are needed to validate computational work, provide perspective on anatomical scale and demonstrate complex deformations in real time. This work addresses prior hurdles in experimental model fabrication with a novel process using 3D printed dissolvable molds for casting encapsulated silicone gel. The resulting models exhibited lifelike characteristics such as velopharynx collapse during inspiration, negative effort dependence and snoring. Each of these behaviors are characteristics of OSA which have not been observed in any prior experimental models. Computer aided design (CAD) data for the models came from segmentations of CT scans of 2 patients with OSA. These segmentations were used in prior research which sought to determine whether a force applied to the back of a patient’s tongue could clear an obstruction and if so, how much force would be needed. Computational results from the original study predict 95 to 125 grams would be sufficient compared to the experimental results of this work which indicate 50 to 80 grams is sufficient. This work provides a physical model upon which experimental devices for treating OSA may be tested. Notably, this approach demonstrates the potential for an implantable device with an adjustable constant force output to successfully treat OSA.


3D Printing; Negative Effort Dependence; Obstructive Sleep Apnea; Silicone Model; Snoring; tongue suspension


Biomedical Engineering and Bioengineering | Mechanical Engineering | Medical Sciences | Medicine and Health Sciences

File Format


File Size

5120 KB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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