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J Korean Soc Plast Reconstr Surg. 1998 Jul;25(5):884-896. Korean. Original Article.
Cho YK , Lee JH , Cho BC , Baik BS .

The number of cancers in the head and neck areas has been increasing due to the increasing life span of the patients and a free flap is a common procedure to reconstruct defect in the head and neck area. From March 1990 to February 1998, 105 patients underwent 110 free flap operations after head and neck cancer ablation and they were reviewed retrospectively. Among 110 free flaps, 93 are forearm flaps, 6 jejunal flaps, 5 vascularized fibular osteocutaneous flaps, 2 lateral arm flaps, 2 rectus abdominis myocutaneous flaps and 1 latissimus dorsi muscle flap and 1 latissimus dorsi myocutaneous flap. Sixty-five radial forearm flaps and 4 ulnar forearm flaps were utilized in patched type and 24 radial forearm flaps in tubed type mainly for the reconstruction of intraoral and hypopharyngeal defects. Sis jejunal flaps were utilized for the esophageal reconstruction and 5 vascularized fibular osteocutaneous flaps for the mandibular reconstruction. The remaining flaps were for the reconstruction of other areas of head and neck.Overall survival rate of the flap was 95.5%. Immediate complications were fistula formation(3 cases), total flap loss (4 cases) or partial flap loss(3 cases) and donor site problems(10 cases). Superior thyrodial artery was the most commonly used recipient artery(89 cases) which was followed by facial artery, lingual artery and transverse cervical artery. Size discrepancy was not remarkable between the donor and recipient arteries. However, there was usually a marked size discrepancy between donor and recipient veins. More than two venous anastomoses were performed to increase the success rate of the flap surgery. An average follow-up period was 38 months ranging from 3 months to 6 years. There was no patient who died during or right after the operations, but 23 patients died due to recurrence of tumors or underlying heart disease during the follow-up period. Remaining patients lived well excluding 6 late postoperative complications such as 4 cases of esophageal stenosis and 2 cases of osteoradionecrosis. We conclude that free flap reconstruction after head and neck cancer ablation improves the quality of life and minimizes the loss of function.

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