Maxillo-Mandibular Reconstruction in Pediatric Patients: How To Do It?

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Maxillo-mandibular reconstruction in pediatric patients involves particular functional and cosmetic implications. Attention is required for the craniofacial growth over time, involvement of the permanent dentition, facial symmetry, and donor site morbidity. Our aim is to identify the best reconstructive options for maxilla-mandibular defects in children (<18 years) based on our experience with 25 pediatric patients. We believe that reconstruction has to be performed at the same time as resection in pediatric patients. Local flaps should be reserved for cases of maxillary defects because of malignant neoplasms, which ultimately have poor prognosis. In cases of large mandibular defects, radiotherapy is eventually required. When the condition of the soft tissues is poor (because of previous surgery, etc), free flaps potentially represent the best options. Nevertheless, in patients younger than 5 years old (with no damaged tissues), reconstruction with rib grafts should be performed, and the use of titanium plates should be reserved for very select cases (such as temporary reconstruction in toddlers).

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