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August 1968

Complications of Radical Neck Dissection

Author Affiliations

Madison, Wis
From the Division of Otolaryngology, Department of Surgery, University of Wisconsin Medical Center, Madison, Wis.

Arch Otolaryngol. 1968;88(2):180-183. doi:10.1001/archotol.1968.00770010182014

NECK dissections are most commonly performed as a part of a combined resection of both the primary lesion and regional lymph nodes, and it is with these combined operations that the great majority of complications occur. The potential for complication varies with the presence of preoperative irradiation as well as with the amount of radiation given and the method and type of radiotherapy. Patients irradiated more than six months prior to surgery have the greatest number of complications. Tissues are most favorable for operation three weeks following the completion of radiotherapy because fibrosis and endarteritis are minimal and tumor regression is maximal. Thus a lower complication rate is expected if surgery is performed within three to six weeks after the completion of radiotherapy. Radium, cobalt 60, and conventional 200 kv therapy provide higher risk potential than does supravoltage therapy because the latter causes less tissue destruction.1,2

Complications which will