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August 1991

The Rectus Abdominis Free Flap in Head and Neck Reconstruction

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Otolaryngology (Drs Urken, Turk, and Biller) and General Surgery/Division of Plastic Surgery (Drs Weinberg and Vickery), Mount Sinai Medical Center, New York, NY.

Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1991;117(8):857-866. doi:10.1001/archotol.1991.01870200051007

• The rectus abdominis musculocutaneous free flap, based on the deep inferior epigastric artery and vein, has been used widely in reconstruction of the breast and extremities. The number of reports on its applications in the head and neck is limited. The rectus abdominis free flap is one of the most versatile soft-tissue flaps. The deep inferior epigastric artery and vein are long, large-diameter vessels that are ideal for microvascular anastomoses. The area of skin that can be transferred is probably the largest of all flaps presently in use. The versatility of this donor site is due to the ability to transfer large areas of skin with varying thicknesses and varying amounts of underlying muscle. We have successfully used this flap in 15 consecutive patients to reconstruct defects of the neck, face, mouth, pharynx, skull base, and scalp. No major complications involving either the recipient or donor sites occurred. The literature on the use of the rectus abdominis flap in head and neck reconstruction is reviewed in detail. The advantages and disadvantages of this soft-tissue free flap are thoroughly discussed in an effort to better define its proper place among the reconstructive options available to the head and neck surgeon.

(Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1991;117:857-866)

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