Reconstructive indications of simultaneous double free flaps in the head and neck: A case series and literature review
Publication Type:Journal Article
Source:Microsurgery, Volume 32, Number 6, p.423-430 (2012)
Keywords:adult, anterolateral thigh flap, cancer radiotherapy, cancer surgery, chemoradiotherapy, clinical article, dysphagia, female, fibula graft, follow up, free tissue graft, gastrostomy, glossectomy, head and neck cancer, human, male, medical record review, priority journal, review, skin flap survival, skull base tumor, soft tissue defect
Extensive and complex defects of the head and neck involving multiple anatomical and functional subunits are a reconstructive challenge. The purpose of this study is to elucidate the reconstructive indications of the use of simultaneous double free flaps in head and neck oncological surgery. This is a retrospective review of 21 consecutive cases of head and neck malignancies treated surgically with resection and reconstruction with simultaneous use of double free flaps. Nineteen of 21 patients had T4 primary tumor stage. Eleven patients had prior history of radiotherapy or chemo-radiotherapy. Forty-two free flaps were used in these patients. The predominant combination was that of free fibula osteo-cutaneous flap with free anterolateral thigh (ALT) fascio-cutaneous flap. The indications of the simultaneous use of double free flaps can be broadly classified as: (a) large oro-mandibular bone and soft tissue defects (n = 13), (b) large oro-mandibular soft tissue defects (n = 4), (c) complex skull-base defects (n = 2), and (d) dynamic total tongue reconstruction (n = 2). Flap survival rate was 95%. Median follow-up period was 11 months. Twelve patients were alive and free of disease at the end of the follow-up. Eighteen of 19 patients with oro-mandibular and glossectomy defects were able to resume an oral diet within two months while one patient remained gastrostomy dependant till his death due to disease not related to cancer. This patient had a combination of free fibula flap with free ALT flap, for an extensive oro-mandibular defect. The associated large defect involving the tongue accounted for the swallowing difficulty. Simultaneous use of double free flap aided the reconstruction in certain large complex defects after head and neck oncologic resections. Such combination permits better complex multiaxial subunit reconstruction. An algorithm for choice of flap combination for the appropriate indications is proposed. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Microsurgery, 2012. Copyright © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
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