Comparative evaluation in pharyngo-oesophageal reconstruction: Radial forearm flap compared with jejunal flap. A 10-year experience

Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Faculty of Medicine, University of Tokyo, Japan.
Scandinavian Journal of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and Hand Surgery (Impact Factor: 0.94). 09/1998; 32(3):307-10.
Source: PubMed


We reviewed 109 consecutive patients with cancer of the hypopharynx or cervical oesophagus who underwent free flap transfer for immediate reconstruction after total pharyngolaryngo-oesophagectomy. The free flaps used were either free jejunal (n = 70) or radial forearm flaps (n = 39). Significantly more fistulas (3/70 compared with 15/39, p < 0.0001) and strictures (6/64 compared with 13/33, p = 0.0008) developed in the radial forearm than the jejunal flap group. However, functional donor site morbidity was minimal and there were no cases of total flap necrosis in the forearm flap group. We consider that the free jejunal flap should be the first choice for total reconstruction of pharyngo-oesophageal defects. However, the forearm flap is suitable for elderly, high risk patients, because it is less invasive and has minimal donor site morbidity, which facilitates early recovery.

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    Seminars in Surgical Oncology 10/2000; 19(3):235-45. DOI:10.1002/1098-2388(200010/11)19:3<235::AID-SSU5>3.0.CO;2-M

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    ABSTRACT: This study evaluates the outcome of pharyngoesophageal reconstruction using radial forearm free flaps with regard to primary wound healing, speech, and swallowing in patients requiring laryngopharyngectomy. Retrospective review in the setting of a tertiary, referral, and academic center. Twenty patients underwent reconstruction of the pharyngoesophageal segment using fasciocutaneous radial forearm free flaps. All free flap transfers were successful. An oral diet was resumed in 85% of the patients after surgery. Postoperative pharyngocutaneous fistulas occurred in 4 patients (20%) with 3 resolving spontaneously. Distal strictures also occurred in 20% of the patients. Five patients who underwent tracheoesophageal puncture achieved useful speech. Advantages of radial forearm free flaps for microvascular pharyngoesophageal function include high flap reliability, limited donor site morbidity, larger vascular pedicle caliber, and the ability to achieve good quality tracheoesophageal speech. The swallowing outcome is similar to that achieved after jejunal flap pharyngoesophageal reconstruction. The main disadvantage of this technique relates to a moderately high incidence of pharyngocutaneous fistulas, which contributes to delayed oral intake in affected patients.
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