Research Article| Volume 58, ISSUE 4, P451-457, May 2020

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Scapular free flap as a good choice for mandibular reconstruction: 119 out of 280 cases after resection of oral squamous cell carcinoma in a single institution


      Microsurgical procedures for reconstruction after resection of head and neck tumours have become standardised and reliable. Among them, the scapular free flap is used less often, mostly to avoid excessive operating times. We hypothesise that complex reconstructions after resection of oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) are successful even with time-consuming free flaps such as the scapular free flap. In this retrospective, single-centre study, we used the evaluation of medical records to investigate the postoperative outcome of microvascular reconstruction after ablative surgery of OSCC. Associations among the categorical variables were analysed using Pearson’s chi squared test or Fisher’s exact test. Among the continuous variables, the t test or Mann-Whitney U test were used as appropriate. For multivariate analysis, the logistic regression model was calculated. In the sample of 280 free flap reconstructions, we performed 142 radial forearm and 119 scapular free flaps. The American Society of Anesthesiology (ASA) score (p = 0.006) and the duration of the operation (p = 0.010) are independent factors which influence the need for operative revisions. The type of free flap is irrelevant for that. With 4.2% flap losses, scapular free flaps were successful; even in patients ≥ 70 years old (0 flap losses). Complex reconstructions after surgical resection of OSCC are successful even in aged patients. The scapular free flap is a good choice for mandibular reconstruction despite the time-consuming intraoperative repositioning of the patient. In an increasingly ageing group of patients, who have more vascular diseases, scapular free flaps could be a very successful alternative after ablative surgery of oral squamous cell carcinoma.


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