Free Tissue Transfers for Head and Neck Reconstruction in Patients with End-Stage Renal Disease on Dialysis: Analysis of Outcomes Using the Taiwan National Health Insurance Research Database

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Patients diagnosed with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) are increasing at around 5% annually. Some of these patients will require free tissue transfers to reconstruct their body after trauma or cancer resection. Comorbidities can increase the level of complexity during reconstruction.


Our goal is to describe the outcomes of ESRD patients under dialysis who underwent free tissue transfer for head and neck reconstruction.


Two cohorts were analyzed: ESRD group on dialysis and a non-ESRD control group after free tissue transfer for head and neck reconstruction. Postoperative complications and mortality were recorded. For coexisting comorbidities, we determine the presence of diabetes mellitus (DM) and peripheral vascular disease (PVD).


In this study, 85 cases with ESRD on dialysis and 841 controls were analyzed. Most patients were aged ≤ 65 years (82.5%) and nearly 92.9% of them were men. Types of head and neck cancer were neoplasm of other and unspecified parts of the mouth followed by neoplasm of tongue, the gingiva, hypopharynx, and floor of mouth. Patients with ESRD tended to have higher rates of DM and PVD (p < 0.001) and were significantly associated with an increased risk of stroke and increased risk of 30-day mortality. However, there was no significant difference regarding flap failure among groups.


Despite greater preoperative risk factors, patients with renal failure on hemodialysis do not appear to have a higher rate of free flap failure following head and neck reconstruction. However, other complications can be minimized by optimizing patient's medical condition to succeed with this reconstructive effort.

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