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Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2003 Sep;129(3):183-91.

Reconstruction of complex parotidectomy defects using the lateral arm free tissue transfer.

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  • 1Department of Otolaryngology, University of Michigan Health System, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-0312, USA.



The study goal was to show that the lateral arm flap is a viable reconstructive option for complex parotidectomy defects.Study design and setting We studied a case series at a tertiary care medical center from March 1997 to March 2002. The lateral arm flap was used to reconstruct parotidectomy defects that included a composite resection of adjacent tissue in 30 patients. There were 19 men and 11 women (mean age, 62 years; mean follow-up, 19 months). The mean flap area was 114 cm(2), and the mean flap volume was 172 cm(3). The posterior cutaneous nerve of the forearm (PCNF) was used as a facial nerve cable graft in 14 patients. Facial disability outcomes were measured using the Facial Clinimetric Evaluation scale.


The major and minor complication rates with use of this reconstructive approach were low: 16.7% (5 of 30) and 26.7% (8 of 30), respectively. Donor site morbidity was minimal, with no patient having a major donor site complication and 23.3% (7 of 30) having minor complications. Functional recovery of the facial nerve occurred in 6 of 8 evaluable patients who underwent facial nerve grafting using the PCNF. Controlling for degree of facial nerve paralysis, Facial Clinimetric Evaluation scale scores of our patients were not statistically different than those of a historic population with a facial paralysis and no surgical defect.


The lateral arm free flap effectively restores facial appearance when used for reconstruction of complex parotidectomy defects. The PCNF, a nerve harvested with the lateral arm flap, can be used as a facial nerve cable graft with a high rate of success.


The lateral arm flap is successful as a single donor site for reconstructing facial contour and the facial nerve after major ablative defects in the parotid region.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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