Venous Complications in One Versus Two Vein Anastomoses in Head and Neck Free Flaps

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The purpose of this study was to compare rates of reexploration and flap failure in patients with 1- and 2-vein anastomoses in free flap reconstructions.


Retrospective chart review of 300 patients undergoing free flap reconstruction to head and neck defects from 2010 to 2014.


One venous anastomosis was performed in 229 patients, and 2 venous anastomoses were performed in 71 patients. The 1-vein group had significantly more reexplorations in the operating room (36/229, 15.7%) compared with the 2-vein group (4/71, 5.6%; P = .028), even when controlling for flap type (P = .022). This finding remained true among radial forearm flaps (17/81, 21% vs 3/53, 5.7%; P = .024). The number of venous anastomoses was not significantly associated with flap failure, though patients with flap failure did have a significantly greater proportion of venous issues (P < .001).


Two-vein anastomoses do not appear to reduce rates of flap failure or postoperative venous thrombosis but are associated with a lower number of reexplorations in the operating room even after accounting for differences in flap types and surgeons.

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