The Combined Latissimus Dorsi—Scapular Free Flap in Head and Neck Reconstruction

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Microvascular free tissue transfer techniques offer great versatility in the selection of tissue for reconstruction of head and neck defects. The system of flaps based on the subscapular artery and vein provides the widest array of composite free flaps. The possible flaps that can be harvested based on this single vascular pedicle include the scapular and parascapular skin flaps, the serratus anterior and latissimus dorsi muscle flaps, and the lateral scapular bone flap. In addition, a segment of vascularized rib can be transferred with the serratus anterior and latissimus dorsi muscles. Large cutaneous defects can be resurfaced by combining the latissimus dorsi and scapular flaps. Another advantage of this combined flap is the independent vascular pedicles of its components, which allow freedom in orientation of the various tissue segments. Thus, the combined flap can be helpful in reconstructing complex threedimensional composite defects of the head and neck. In addition, by reinnervating the muscle portions of this flap, bulk can be preserved and an improved functional reconstruction of the oral cavity achieved. A review of the literature shows three previous reports utilizing this combination of flaps in five patients. We report the use of the combined latissimus dorsi—scapular free flap in six patients to reconstruct massive composite defects of the oral cavity, midface, and scalp. There was one flap failure, which was successfully reconstructed with the contralateral latissimus dorsi—scapular flap. The anatomy of this flap is reviewed, and the indications for its application are discussed. (Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1991;117:1242-1250)

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1242-1250
Number of pages9
JournalJAMA Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1991


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