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Prophylactic chimera anterolateral thigh/vastus lateralis flap: preventing complications in high-risk head and neck reconstruction

  • Autori: Cordova, A; D'Arpa, S; Di Lorenzo, S; Toia, F; Campisi, G; Moschella, F
  • Anno di pubblicazione: 2014
  • Tipologia: Articolo in rivista (Articolo in rivista)
  • OA Link:


PURPOSE: In high-risk head and neck cases treated with tumor resection and associated radical neck dissection, orocutaneous fistulas and wound breakdowns in the neck are relatively frequent and can have serious consequences, such as carotid blowout syndrome (CBS), the need for salvage reoperations, and prolonged recovery time. The authors present the application of a prophylactic chimeric anterolateral thigh (ALT) and vastus lateralis (VL) flap to prevent complications. MATERIALS AND METHODS: A retrospective review was performed of a historical group (96 patients) of patients with head and neck cancer treated with tumor resection, radical neck dissection, and microsurgical reconstruction of the tumor site only and a prospective cohort (21 patients) in which a chimeric ALT-VL flap was used to simultaneously reconstruct the tumor site and sternocleidomastoid muscle to fill dead space and protect the carotid artery. RESULTS: The rate of complications was higher in the historical group: CBS occurred in 4.1% and orocutaneous fistulas in 11.5% of patients; 5.2% of patients required major salvage surgery for a wound complication. In the cohort group, no CBS or orocutaneous fistula occurred and no major salvage surgical procedure was needed. CONCLUSIONS: Prophylactic ALT-VL flaps in high-risk head and neck cancers provide adequate and long-lasting soft tissue coverage for the carotid artery, with minimal additional morbidity, and could be beneficial in preventing serious and life-threatening wound complications and the need for reoperation