Mandibular reconstruction in 2004: an analysis of different techniques

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Purpose of review

The field of mandibular reconstruction has evolved dramatically over the past fifty years. Numerous advances in microsurgical technique, plating technology and instrumentation, and an understanding of donor site angiosomes have made consistent and reliable mandibular reconstruction possible. Refinements in technique continue to improve the functional and aesthetic outcomes of oromandibular reconstruction. This review discusses the current state-of-the-art techniques for mandibular reconstruction and highlights the latest innovations in technique.

Recent findings

The most common indication for oromandibular reconstruction remains ablative surgery for advanced neoplastic processes of the oral cavity and oropharynx. Reconstruction of these complex three-dimensional composite bony and soft-tissue defects is paramount for rehabilitation of form and function. Vascularized osseous free tissue transfer is the state-of-the-art for mandibular reconstruction. The long-term excellent functional and aesthetic outcomes of this technique have recently been reported. The most commonly used free flaps for mandibular reconstruction are the fibula, iliac crest, and scapula. Each of these typically accepts endosseous implants improving functional outcomes. The use of mandibular reconstruction plates and coverage with a soft-tissue flap remains a reconstructive option for selected patients. The latest refinements in technique include temporary intraoperative external fixation, the use of periosteal free flaps, distraction osteogenesis, and development of biodegradable biopolymer scaffolds for mandibular defects.


Oromandibular reconstruction, although a challenge for the head and neck reconstructive surgeon, is now reliable and highly successful with excellent long-term functional and aesthetic outcomes.

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