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July 1978

Indications for Radical Neck Dissection Following Radiation Therapy

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Otolaryngology, University of Miami School of Medicine and the Veterans Administration Hospital, Miami. Dr Goodwin is now with Clark Air Force Base, Manila, Philippines.

Arch Otolaryngol. 1978;104(7):367-370. doi:10.1001/archotol.1978.00790070005001

• The recent trend has been away from elective neck dissection in the management of patients with cancer of the head and neck. In addition, improved techniques of radiation therapy have demonstrated their capacity to eliminate and sterilize occult and even frank neck metastases.

An unselected series of 409 radical neck dissections performed in 357 patients in a period of eight years has been critically reviewed to determine the incidence of microscopically negative nodes in patients who were previously radiated for cure and in whom a neck dissection had been performed as a part of the surgical procedure.

Findings and results support our current position that a neck dissection in the presence of clinically negative nodes, particularly when they were never previously present, need not be included in the surgical procedure designed to salvage patients following radiation failure. Because of the documented increase of postoperative complications following such surgery, the decrease in morbidity and mortality seems to justify this policy.

(Arch Otolaryngol 104:367-370, 1978)

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