Shoulder Morbidity in Patients after Head and Neck Reconstruction with the Pedicled Supraclavicular Island Flap

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Abstract

Background:

The pedicled supraclavicular artery island flap (SCAIF) for reconstruction of the head and neck has been shown to be a pliable alternative to established pedicled flaps, such as the pectoralis major myocutaneous flap. Because there are limited published data regarding shoulder morbidity after SCAIF procedure, we aimed to investigate it with 2 established questionnaires for the upper extremity [Constant-Murley score and Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder and Hand Outcome Measure (DASH) score].

Methods:

The authors designed and implemented a retrospective cohort study of patients who received a defect reconstruction by SCAIF. Analyzed parameters were demographics, comorbidities, donor-site morbidity and shoulder morbidity in terms of range of motion, pain, strength, and daily activities evaluated and compared between the donor site and contralateral arm.

Results:

Of the 61 consecutively performed head and neck reconstructions with SCAIF, 20 met inclusion criteria (curative intended treatment, head and neck squamous cell cancer, follow-up time more than 4 months). Mean follow-up was 17.3 months (±10.4 months) ranging from 4–35 months. Donor-site complication rate was low with 5% major (surgical revision) and 30% minor complications (conservative management). Overall Constant-Murley-Score (P = 0.334), pain (P = 0.150), overall range of motion (P = 0.861), and strength of the extremity (P = 0.638) of the shoulder receiving a SCAIF showed no significant differences to the contralateral extremity. Mean of Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder and Hand Outcome Measure score was 32.5 (±28.6).

Conclusion:

The results of the present study suggest very low shoulder morbidity in patients after SCAIF procedure with no significant functional impairment of the donor shoulder compared with the contralateral side.

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