Reconstruction of the laryngopharynx after hemicricoid/hemithyroid cartilage resection: Preliminary functional results

Mark L. Urken, Keith Blackwell, Hugh F. Biller

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Objective: To evaluate the use of a sensate radial forearm free flap and free cartilage graft for reconstruction of the laryngopharyngeal defect that results from resection of pyriform sinus carcinoma that extends to the apex of the pyriform sinus and includes the hemithyroid and hemicricoid cartilages. Design: Case series review of 6 patients treated during a 2 1/4 - year period with an average follow-up of 23 months. Factors evaluated included oncologic outcome, as well as functional outcome with regard to the onset and quality of the airway, speech, and deglutition. Setting: Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY, an academic, tertiary referral center. Patients: Six men ranging in age from 51 to 73 years underwent a partial laryngopharyngectomy that included the hemicricoid and hemithyroid cartilages as well as the ipsilateral thyroid lobe and either unilateral or bilateral lymph node dissections for squamous cell cancer that involved the apex of the pyriform sinus. Intervention: These extensive laryngopharyngeal defects were reconstructed with a sensate radial forearm flap that resurfaced the endolarynx, restored the depth of the pyriform sinus, and reconstructed the remainder of the hypopharynx. In the final 4 patients, a free costal cartilage graft was used to restore the infrastructure of the larynx. Outcome Measures: The status of the margins, the incidence and site of recurrent cancer, the quality of speech, and the times to decannulation and removal of the gastrostomy tube. Results: Three recurrences developed, with 1 each at the primary site, in the neck, and systemically. All but 1 patient who had completed radiotherapy by the last follow-up had been decannulated and all but 1 patient regained the ability to maintain nutrition by mouth. Complications were limited to pharyngocutaneous fistulae requiring surgical closure in 3 patients early in the series. Conclusion: Functional reconstruction of extensive laryngopharyngeal defects can be achieved with a sensate radial forearm flap and a cartilage graft, with favorable functional results and acceptable morbidity, thus expanding the limits of conservation laryngopharyngeal surgery.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1213-1222
Number of pages10
JournalArchives of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1997


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