Use of Apron Flap Incision for Neck Dissection

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Neck dissection is one of the most commonly performed surgical procedures in the management of head and neck cancer. Different skin incisions with various modifications have been described in the literature. Three commonly used but conceptually different incisions were compared with respect to the incidence of wound dehiscence in a retrospective review. There were 166 patients with 184 neck dissections carried out using a triradiate (n = 85), modified MacFee (n = 25), or an apron flap incision (n = 74). The incidence of wound dehiscence in the three groups was 11 percent, 8 percent, and 0 percent for the triradiate, modified MacFee, and apron flap incisions, respectively. There was a statistically significant difference in the incidence of wound dehiscence between the apron flap incision and the triradiate incision groups (p = 0.004). The difference in wound dehiscence was not statistically significant between the apron flap incision and the modified MacFee incision groups (p = 0.06). Overall, there was a significant increase in the incidence of wound dehiscence in previously irradiated necks (p = 0.02), but this was significant only for the triradiate incision (p = 0.005) when analyzed individually. Comparison of triradiate, apron, and MacFee incisions did not show a statistically significant difference between the incisions with regard to other postoperative complications in terms of seroma, hematoma, wound infection, and fistula formation. The apron flap incision is the recommended approach in the presence of previous neck irradiation as it gives easier access than the MacFee incision. The robustness of the flap is because of the absence of a trifurcate point as well as a good vascular supply arising from arterial territory of the external carotid artery. (Plast. Reconstr. Surg. 103: 1655, 1999.)

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