Reirradiation after salvage surgery and microvascular free flap reconstruction for recurrent head and neck carcinoma

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Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To evaluate the outcome and complications of reirradiation of recurrent head and neck cancer after salvage surgery and microvascular reconstruction.

STUDY DESIGN:

Retrospective.

SUBJECTS AND METHODS:

Twelve patients underwent salvage surgery with microvascular reconstruction for recurrent or second primary head and neck cancer in a previously irradiated field. Median prior radiation therapy dose was 63.0 Gy. Patients then underwent postoperative reirradiation, and received a median total cumulative radiation dose of 115.0 Gy.

RESULTS:

Three (25%) patients experienced acute complications (<3 months) during reirradiation. Four (33%) patients developed grade 3 or 4 late reirradiation complications (>3 months). There were no incidences of free flap failure, brain necrosis, spinal cord injury, or carotid rupture. The incidence of soft tissue necrosis and osteoradionecrosis was 8%. Six (50%) patients are alive without evidence of recurrent disease a median of 40 months after reirradiation.

CONCLUSION:

Microvascular free flaps allow for maximal resection and reliable reconstruction of previously irradiated cancers before high dose reirradiation and may reduce the incidence of severe late complications and treatment related mortality.

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