Microvascular Free Flaps in Head and Neck Reconstruction: Report of 200 Cases and Review of Complications

Mark L. Urken, Hubert Weinberg, Daniel Buchbinder, Juan F. Moscoso, William Lawson, Peter J. Catalano, Hugh F. Biller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

367 Scopus citations


Objective: Microvascular free-tissue transfer to the head and neck has become an accepted method of reconstruction owing to increased success rates and superior aesthetic and functional results. Although the large number of arteries and veins in the neck make free-flap revascularization easier than in other recipient sites of the body, there are also unique problems that pose significant risks to the success of the procedure. We report our experience with 200 microvascular free flaps performed between 1987 and 1992. Setting: This study was conducted at a tertiary referral center. Patients: The majority of patients in this series underwent surgery for squamous cell cancer. Approximately 75% of the reconstructions were performed for defects of the oral cavity. There were 120 vascularized bone-containing free flaps for mandibular and midface reconstruction. The remaining 80 soft-tissue flaps were used for a variety of defects ranging from the scalp to the pharyngoesophagus. Results: An overall success rate of 93.5% for free-tissue transfers is reported. Greater experience with this technique has resulted in a reduction and a change in the nature of the complications encountered compared with those seen in the early part of our series. Donor and recipient site complications, including flap failures and anastomotic revisions, are analyzed in detail with respect to age, radiation status, donor site, and whether the ablative procedure was done for a primary or recurrent neoplasm.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)633-640
Number of pages8
JournalJAMA Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1994


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