Scapula osteocutaneous free flap reconstruction of the head and neck: Impact of flap choice on surgical and medical complications

Russell B. Smith, Douglas K. Henstrom, Lucy H. Karnell, Kristi C. Chang, David P. Goldstein, Gerry F. Funk

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

19 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background. The scapula osteocutaneous free flap is frequently used to reconstruct complex head and neck defects given its tissue versatility. Because of minimal atherosclerotic changes in its vascular pedicle, this flap also may be used as a second choice when other osseous flaps are not available because of vascular disease at a preferred donor site. Methods. We performed a retrospective chart review evaluating flap outcome as well as surgical and medical complications based upon the flap choice. Results. The flap survival rate was 97%. The surgical complication rate was similar for the 21 first-choice flaps (57.1%) and the 12 second-choice flaps (41.7%; p = .481). However, patients having second-choice flaps had a higher rate of medical complications (66.7%) than those with first-choice flaps (28.6%; p = .066). Age and the presence of comorbidities were associated with increased medical complications. All patients with comorbidities that had a second-choice flap experienced medical complications, with most being severe. Conclusions. The scapula osteocutaneous free flap has a high success rate in head and neck reconstruction. Surgical complications occur frequently regardless of whether the flap is used as a first or second choice. However, medical complications are more frequent and severe in patients undergoing second-choice flaps.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)446-452
Number of pages7
JournalHead and Neck
Volume29
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2007
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Complications
  • Free tissue
  • Head and neck
  • Outcome
  • Scapula

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology

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    Smith, R. B., Henstrom, D. K., Karnell, L. H., Chang, K. C., Goldstein, D. P., & Funk, G. F. (2007). Scapula osteocutaneous free flap reconstruction of the head and neck: Impact of flap choice on surgical and medical complications. Head and Neck, 29(5), 446-452. https://doi.org/10.1002/hed.20540