Functional outcomes after free flap reconstruction of the upper aerodigestive tract


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Abstract

Purpose of reviewWhen the complex structures of the upper aerodigestive tract are disrupted after resection of head and neck tumors, an appropriate reconstructive option should be chosen in an attempt to regain maximum function. Reconstructions using microvascular free tissue transfer offer unparalleled flexibility, both in tissue composition and in placement. This article will examine functional outcomes after free flap reconstruction of the upper aerodigestive tract.Recent findingsWith the maturation of free tissue transfer techniques, functional outcomes are being analyzed with increasing frequency. Recent reports show promising results for free flap reconstruction of oral cavity, oropharyngeal, and hypopharyngeal soft tissue defects, as well as for bony mandibular and maxillary defects.SummaryFor both soft tissue and bony defects of the upper aerodigestive tract, microvascular free flaps provide good functional outcomes. In the future, randomized studies are needed to compare the functional outcomes of microvascular free flaps with those of other reconstructive options.

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