Background: The incidence of radiation-induced hypothyroidism (RIH) in patients with head and neck cancer is >50%. The purpose of this study was to assess the long-term efficacy of free thyroid transfer (FTT) for prevention of RIH in patients with head and neck cancer. Methods: Hemithyroid dissection was completed in 10 patients with advanced head and neck cancer undergoing ablation, radial forearm free flap (RFFF) reconstruction, and postoperative radiotherapy (RT). The hemithyroid was anastomosed to the donor site vessels in the forearm. Thyroid laboratory testing and technetium (Tc) scans were performed 6 weeks and 12 months postoperatively to establish functional integrity. Results: FTT was successfully performed in 9 of 10 recruited patients. Postoperative Tc scans demonstrated strong Tc uptake in the forearm donor site at 6 weeks and 12 months in all patients who underwent transplantations. Conclusion: FTT is feasible with maintenance of function, and may represent a novel strategy for prevention of RIH.
- head neck cancer
- radiation-induced hypothyroidism