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December 1993

Free Tissue Transfer for Skull Base Reconstruction Analysis of Complications and a Classification Scheme for Defining Skull Base Defects

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Otolaryngology (Drs Urken, Catalano, Post, Futran, and Biller) and Neurological Surgery (Dr Sen), Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY.

Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1993;119(12):1318-1325. doi:10.1001/archotol.1993.01880240054007

Objective:  The role of free flaps in skull base reconstruction is discussed in detail. Twenty-six microvascular free tissue transfers performed in 22 patients are reviewed in detail. A classification scheme for skull base defects is presented.

Setting:  Tertiary referral center.

Patients:  Twenty-two patients with neoplasms that involve the skull base underwent a combined craniotomy and facial approach for resection. The resultant defects were reconstructed with a variety of microvascular free flaps.

Results:  All 22 patients were ultimately successfully reconstructed with a free flap. One patient required a second free flap following ablative surgery for a recurrent tumor. The initial free flaps in three patients were unsuccessful and a second flap was required. The classification scheme was applied to all defects.

Conclusions:  The creation of a functional separation of the intracranial and extracranial cavities can be extremely difficult to accomplish, especially when multiple cavities (nasal, oral, pharyngeal) are violated. Free flaps provide a solution to this problem in select cases. Skull base defects can and should be classified for the purpose of communication, treatment planning, prognosis of reconstruction, and judging therapeutic outcome.(Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1993;119:1318-1325)

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