Free tissue transfer in head and neck reconstruction: 100 consecutive cases


ENT Department, East Kent Hospitals University Foundation Trust, UK


Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Salmanyia Medical Complex, Bahrain


Plastics Surgery, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, UK


Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, UK

B-ENT 2015; 11: 51-56
Read: 693 Downloads: 592 Published: 04 February 2020

Free tissue transfer in head and neck reconstruction: 100 consecutive cases. Objectives: Free flap reconstruction of head and neck defects is a rapidly changing field. We present a case series in this field in which we critically assess our survival rates and complications, and we highlight specific technical variables that may be associated with improved outcomes.

Methodology: This case series from a tertiary medical centre comprises 100 consecutive head and neck microvascular free flap reconstructions. Medical notes were reviewed specifically for indications, adjuvant and neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy, complications, and outcome of the free flap.

Results: The overall flap survival rate was 99%, with a 6% return-to-theatre rate. Three cases had a general complication in the form of a non-flap compromising haematoma that necessitated a return to theatre for an evacuation. Specific microvascular anastomosis–related complication rate was 2% requiring salvage revision. One flap was lost due to infection. Of the 100 cases, 87% were fasciocutaneous free flaps, 7% were musculocutaneous, 5% were osseocutaneous, and one was a skin/cartilage free flap. With regard to indications for reconstruction, oncological resection accounted for 86% of cases; a total of 12% had mandibular bone involvement that required osseocutaneous reconstruction.

Conclusions: We have highlighted specific technical steps we used that may have contributed to our positive results. Moreover, we encourage the use of standardised postoperative monitoring guidelines for all multidisciplinary surgical teams involved in head and neck patients; they facilitate communication and increase early detection of complications, permitting timely intervention, which may be critical for flap survival.

EISSN 2684-4907