The Radial Forearm Flap in Intraoral Reconstruction: The Experience of 60 Consecutive Cases


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Abstract

Sixty consecutive patients in whom a free radial forearm flap was used to reconstruct an intraoral defect have been reviewed. The ages ranged from 54 to 85 years, the majority of patients presenting with intraoral carcinoma. There were 6 microvascular failures, and the remaining 54 patients (90 percent) healed uneventfully, with no incidence of Fistula. Intraoral healing time was reduced to 11 days on average, and hospitalization was similarly reduced to 17.8 days. A slower postoperative recovery did not appear to be related to age or to the site of the defect within the oral cavity but closely paralleled the extent of excisional surgery. The postoperative mortality was less than 2 percent, but the overall prognosis remained poor, with a 21.6 percent mortality at follow-up (minimum 15 months). Thirty-nine patients (72 percent) underwent early postoperative radical radiotherapy without any evidence of intraoral wound breakdown or problems with flap viability. The results demonstrate the effectiveness of this method of intraoral reconstruction and indicate that such complicated and prolonged surgical techniques do not increase the risks associated with major head and neck surgery.

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