The use of negative pressure wound therapy in the primary setting for high-risk head and neck surgery

Quinn F. O'Malley, John R. Sims, Mykayla L. Sandler, Hannah Spitzer, Mark L. Urken

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: In head and neck surgery, dead space is typically managed by transferring a secondary pedicled flap or harvesting a larger composite flap with a muscular component. We demonstrate the novel use of prophylactic negative pressure wound therapy (NPWT) to obliterate dead space and reduce possible communication between the upper aerodigestive tract and the contents of the neck. Methods: We present a single-institutional case series of five patients with high-risk head and neck cancer treated with NPWT after ablative and reconstructive surgery to eliminate dead space following surgical resection. Results: All patients achieved successful wound closure following NPWT, which was applied in the secondary setting to combat infection in one patient and the primary setting to prophylactically eliminate dead space in four patients. Conclusion: NPWT can be used to treat unfilled dead space in the primary setting of head and neck ablative and reconstructive surgery and help to avoid wound healing problems as well as the need for secondary flap transfers.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102470
JournalAmerican Journal of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Medicine and Surgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Head and neck
  • Negative pressure dressings
  • Negative pressure wound therapy
  • Otolaryngology
  • Vacuum-assisted wound closure


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