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September 1996

Assessment of Functional Morbidity in the Radial Forearm Free Flap Donor Site

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Otolaryngology, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary (Drs Brown, Cheney, and Gliklich) and the Department of Rehabilitation and Physical Medicine, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital (Dr Sheffler), Harvard Medical School, Boston, Mass, and the Department of Otolaryngology, St Louis (Mo) University Medical School (Dr Varvares). Dr Brown is now with the Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, The Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, Md.

Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1996;122(9):991-994. doi:10.1001/archotol.1996.01890210063014

Objective:  To quantitate the functional morbidity to the hand and wrist due to the harvest of a radial forearm free fasciocutaneous flap.

Design:  Case-control study with age-matched control groups.

Setting:  Tertiary care hospital.

Patients:  A consecutive sample of 21 patients who underwent a radial forearm free flap reconstruction of the head and neck from June 1993 to February 1995 constitute the experimental group. Thirteen of those eligible patients participated in the study. Two control groups were identified. One cohort included 13 patients with head and neck cancer who underwent free tissue transfer other than the radial forearm flap. The other cohort consisted of 16 subjects who were healthy volunteers, patients without cancer, or patients who were considered to be cured of cancer.

Outcome Measures:  Wrist range of motion, grip strength, and sensation in the radial, ulnar, and median nerve distributions on the hands, bilaterally.

Results:  No significant differences (P>.05) were detected between the groups for the modalities that were tested.

Conclusion:  There is minimal functional morbidity associated with the harvest of the radial forearm free fasciocutaneous flap.Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1996;122:991-994

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