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Head Neck. 2010 Oct;32(10):1345-53. doi: 10.1002/hed.21331.

Clinicopathologic and therapeutic risk factors for perioperative complications and prolonged hospital stay in free flap reconstruction of the head and neck.

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Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery/Department of Surgical Oncology, Princess Margaret Hospital, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.



We aimed to determine predictors of morbidity in patients undergoing microvascular free flap reconstruction of the head and neck.


We prospectively evaluated 796 cases between 1999 and 2007 using univariate and multivariate analysis to determine predictors of morbidity and prolonged hospital stay.


Two hundred thirty-nine patients (30%) developed major complications. Age, body mass index (BMI), American Society of Anesthesiology (ASA) score, Kaplan Feinstein comorbidity index (KFI) score, preoperative hemoglobin, and tracheostomy were independent predictors of major complication. Predictors of prolonged hospital stay included age, recent weight loss, alcohol excess, ASA, KFI, preoperative hemoglobin, mucosal surgery, anesthesia duration, and crystalloid replacement volume.


Several variables are associated with an increased risk of development of major complications following free flap reconstruction of the head and neck. Although many of these variables are irreversible, they aid risk stratification of patients undergoing free flap reconstruction, and assist clinicians in making treatment decisions, consenting, and providing patients with realistic expectations regarding their perioperative course.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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