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The fate of the free flap pedicle after free tissue transfer to the head and neck area

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Publication date: February 2017
Source:Oral Oncology, Volume 65
Author(s): Maarten L.V. Van Genechten, Martin D. Batstone
ObjectivesLittle is understood about what happens to the vascular pedicle following free tissue transfer in the head and neck region. The viability of a free flap completely depends on the vascular supply by its vascular pedicle until neovascularization occurs from surrounding tissues. The aim of this study is to find out how long a vascular pedicle lasts following free tissue transfer in the head and neck region.Materials and methodsPatients were recruited from the Maxillofacial Unit at the Royal Brisbane & Women's Hospital. A Doppler ultrasound was used to map the vascular pedicle immediately postoperatively, at 2weeks, 6weeks, 3months and 6months.ResultsFifty-seven consecutive free flaps underwent colour Doppler ultrasonography at the timepoints described demonstrating the status of the vascular pedicle. All the patients underwent reconstructive head and neck surgery with a wide variety of soft tissue and composite free flaps.ConclusionThis study is the first to document the fate of the vascular pedicle over a long time period for a wide variety of head and neck free flaps. This information is important when undertaking revision surgery to the free flap, or planning the vascular supply for a second or third free flap to the head and neck region.



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