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Oral Oncol. 2009 Dec;45(12):1058-62. doi: 10.1016/j.oraloncology.2009.07.010. Epub 2009 Sep 1.

The impacts of liver cirrhosis on head and neck cancer patients undergoing microsurgical free tissue transfer: an evaluation of flap outcome and flap-related complications.

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Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital and Chang Gung University, College of Medicine, 5 Fu-Hsing Street, Kuei-Shan, Taoyuan, Taiwan.


Several authors have cited liver cirrhosis as a risk factor for surgery but no study performed statistical correlation between flap outcome and severity of liver cirrhosis in patients with head and neck cancer. We performed a retrospective analysis of 3108 patients who underwent free tissue transfer after head and neck cancer ablation between January 2000 and December 2008. Liver cirrhosis was identified in 62 patients. Forty-two patients (67.7%) were classified as having Child's class A cirrhosis, seventeen (27.4%) as having class B, and three (4.9%) as having class C cirrhosis. The overall complete flap survival rate was 90.3% (56/62). The flap-related complications of patients with Child's class A, B, and C were 38.1% (16/42), 47.1% (8/17), and 100% (3/3), respectively and showed no significant difference between these three groups (p=0.2758). The rate of postoperative neck hematoma was 14.5%; the risk of postoperative neck hematoma was significantly higher in patients with more advanced liver cirrhosis (p=0.0003). The recipient-site complications of patients with Child's class A cirrhosis, Child's class B, and Child's class C cirrhosis were 35.7%, 41.1%, and 66.6%, respectively, with no significant difference among the three groups. The statistical analysis demonstrated that diabetes mellitus is significantly associated with a negative prognosis for free flap reconstruction (p=0.0364). The flap survival rate and patency of microvascular anastomosis have no association with liver cirrhosis. To achieve a superior surgical outcome, preoperative optimization and a multidisciplinary team responsible for the evaluation and treatment of head and neck cancer patients with cirrhosis are necessary.

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