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September 1997

Internal Jugular Vein Thrombosis After Functional and Selective Neck Dissection

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Otolaryngology (Drs Quraishi and Rodman) and Surgery (Dr Granke), West Virginia University, Morgantown; and the Department of Otolaryngology, State University of New York, Buffalo (Dr Wax).

Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1997;123(9):969-973. doi:10.1001/archotol.1997.01900090085012

Objective:  To determine the incidence of internal jugular vein thrombosis after functional or selective neck dissection.

Design:  Patients underwent serial Doppler ultrasonographic examinations of their internal jugular veins, on postoperative days 1 and 7, following functional neck dissection. Long-term follow-up was conducted at a minimum of 3 months.

Setting:  Department of Otolaryngology, West Virginia University, Morgantown.

Patients:  Sixty-five patients (51 men and 14 women) underwent 100 functional neck dissections between 1993 and 1995. Thirty-five patients had NO, 10 had N1, and 20 had N2 node involvement, respectively. Thirty-five patients underwent bilateral neck dissection, 17 underwent left neck dissection, and 13 underwent right neck dissection.

Main Outcome Measures:  Thrombosis of the internal jugular veins was determined using duplex Doppler scanning. Correlation with the length of the procedure, intraoperative blood loss, preoperative radiation therapy, stage of neck disease, presence of extracapsular spread, wound infection, and pedicled musculocutaneous flap closure was determined.

Results:  Of the 100 internal jugular veins studied, 20 (24.7%) of 81 and 19 (26.4%) of 72 were found to have evidence of thrombosis on postoperative days 1 and 7, respectively. On long-term follow-up, the incidence of internal jugular vein thrombosis was significantly lower (5.8%; P<.001). None of the variables examined correlated significantly with the presence of thrombosis. Of the 20 veins that were thrombosed initially, on follow-up 13 had normal flow and 2 had persistent thrombosis. Five patients were unavailable for follow-up. No thrombosis developed as a late finding.

Conclusions:  Our results indicate that even though the incidence of internal jugular vein thrombosis is relatively high immediately following neck dissection, a significant number of these veins will undergo recanalization and have excellent long-term patency.Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1997;123:969-973