Bilateral Small Radial Forearm Flaps for the Reconstruction of Buccal Mucosa after Surgical Release of Submucosal Fibrosis: A New, Reliable Approach

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Abstract

Oral submucous fibrosis is a collagen disorder affecting the submucosal layer and often severely limiting mouth opening. Previous surgical treatments have been disappointing. This article introduces a new surgical approach: reconstructing the bilateral buccal mucosa with two small radial forearm flaps. The surgical method includes the complete surgical release of fibrotic buccal mucosa and, if necessary, a bilateral coronoidectomy and temporalis muscle myotomy. From 1997 to 1999, 15 patients with moderate-to-severe trismus received reconstructive surgery, for a total of 30 small radial forearm flaps after surgical release. The flap size was between 1.5 × 5 and 2.5 × 7 cm. All donor sites were directly closed, and all flaps survived completely, except for one with partial necrosis. Six flaps required minor revisions because of size redundancy. Two patients developed buccal cancer in the area of reconstruction. At an average of 12 months' follow-up, the inter-incisal distance averaged 33 mm, an increase of 17 mm compared with the preoperative value. The donorsite morbidity was minimal, except in one heavy smoker who developed dry gangrene of his fingertips. The use of two small free forearm flaps for buccal mucosa reconstruction allows more radical release of fibrotic tissue. Coronoidectomy and temporal muscle myotomy further contribute to the effect of trismus release. The combined effects of this approach have consistently given good results. An aggressive approach toward surgical treatment of this precancerous lesion also facilitates the detection of cancer at an early stage. (Plast. Reconstr. Surg. 107: 1679, 2001.)

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