June 1996

Lateral Mandibular Reconstruction Using Soft-Tissue Free Flaps and Plates

Author Affiliations

From the Division of Head and Neck Surgery, University of California School of Medicine, Los Angeles (Dr Blackwell), and the Department of Otolaryngology (Dr Urken) and Division of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery (Dr Buchbinder), The Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY.

Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1996;122(6):672-678. doi:10.1001/archotol.1996.01890180078018

Objective:  To assess the outcome of patients who are undergoing reconstruction of segmental lateral mandibular defects by using soft-tissue free flaps combined with mandibular reconstruction plates.

Design:  Retrospective case series of 15 patients who were undergoing primary reconstruction of mandibular segments posterior to the mental foramen, resulting from treatment of head and neck cancer. All patients received either preoperative or postoperative radiation therapy.

Setting:  Academic tertiary care referral center.

Interventions:  Fourteen patients had mandibular continuity restored by using the titanium hollow screw reconstruction plate system, and 1 patient received a stainless steel mandibular reconstruction plate. Associated soft-tissue defects were repaired by using radial forearm (n=11), rectus abdominis (n=2), scapular and parascapular (n=1), or lateral arm (n=1) free flaps.

Main Outcome Measures:  Early and delayed complications.

Results:  All 15 microvascular free tissue transfers were successful. Early complications were minor and occurred in 5 (33%) of 15 patients. One patient in whom the titanium hollow screw reconstruction plate system had been used experienced a fracture at 15 months after reconstruction. Three patients experienced delayed external plate exposure between 7 and 15 months after primary oromandibular reconstruction. Patients who experienced delayed external plate exposure required secondary reconstruction with a vascularized bone-containing free flap. The overall rate of delayed reconstructive failure was 40% in patients who were followed up for a minimum of 1 year.

Conclusions:  For patients who are undergoing free flap reconstruction of lateral mandibulectomy defects, the technique that used soft-tissue free flaps combined with mandibular reconstruction plates has been abandoned in favor of using vascularized bone-containing free flaps or a combination of free flaps to achieve optimal long-term results.(Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1996;122:672-678)