Management of pedicle ossification following free flap reconstruction: A case report

Abigail Katz, Sunder Gidumal, Erica Mayland, Eric Genden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Heterotopic ossification of a vascular pedicle is an uncommon, but established, phenomenon occasionally seen incidentally on post-operative imaging after fibular free flap reconstruction. Symptomatic cases of pedicle ossification, however, are much rarer, with very few cases requiring operative intervention. We present the largest case of pedicle ossification recorded to date, review the literature on symptomatic pedicle ossification, and describe our experience with the surgical management and outcomes of this complication in symptomatic patients. Presentation of case: A 60-year-old man with a 7 cm neck mass and neck pain presents six months after fibular free flap reconstruction of an osteonecrotic mandible. CT demonstrates heterotopic ossification of the free flap vascular pedicle. The patient underwent surgical resection of the ossification with preservation of the pedicle and had an uncomplicated post-operative course with resolution of symptoms. Discussion: While pedicle ossification following fibula free flap surgery appears to be a somewhat common occurrence in the literature, clinically significant and symptomatic cases are rare. Symptomatic pedicle ossification may require secondary surgical intervention if large, painful, or disfiguring. Although there are surgical techniques described which may decrease the incidence of postoperative ossification, the rarity of symptomatic cases may not justify the additional surgical risks created by subperiosteal dissection. Conclusion: Here, we present what appears to be the largest case of pedicle ossification in the literature. We believe this case may aid in the understanding of pedicle ossification and contribute towards a standard treatment protocol in the prevention and treatment of clinically relevant pedicle ossification.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102990
JournalAmerican Journal of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Medicine and Surgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2021


  • Free flap
  • Head and neck reconstruction
  • Surgical complications


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