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Ann Plast Surg. 2011 Jun;66(6):618-22. doi: 10.1097/SAP.0b013e3181e35cd8.

Reconstruction of large palatal defects using the free anterolateral thigh flap.

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Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Akdeniz University, Antalya, Turkey.


The ideal reconstructive method for the palatal defect should provide durable, stable coverage, and a natural contour, while simultaneously minimizing morbidity of both the defect and donor sites. Although small and usual palatal defects can be repaired easily using local adjacent tissues, successful closure of large, complex defects is still a challenging problem. Numerous free tissue options have to date been described for large palatal defects. Although the radial forearm flap constitutes a good option for ideal reconstructive goals, the sacrifice of a major artery to the hand and the skin graft to the forearm with its high potential risk of complications are evident problems attendant upon this donor site. Since the first report of the anterolateral thigh flap, this has become one of the most commonly used flaps for the reconstruction of various soft-tissue defects. Between April 2005 and May 2009, 8 free anterolateral thigh flaps were used to reconstruct defects of the palate. The study involved 6 male and 2 female patients, their ages ranging from 3 to 45. Five patients had palatal defects due to congenital cleft palate deformity, 2 patients had defects due to tumor resection, and the remaining patient had a palatal defect due to a gunshot wound. The size of the flaps ranged from 8 to 14 cm in length and from 4 to 7 cm in width. Facial vessels were used as recipient vascular sources in all patients. Primary thinning of the flap was performed in all cases. Donor sites were closed directly and healed uneventfully in all patients. There were no postoperative complications and all flaps survived totally. No debulking was needed. All patients, and their families in the case of child patients, were satisfied with the results of their surgical treatment. In conclusion, although it has some irregularity in derivation from the main vessels, with its evident structural and cosmetic advantages the anterolateral thigh flap can be considered an excellent and ideal free flap option for most large palatal defects that cannot be closed by regional tissue in selected patients. It can reconstruct defects in single stage with well-vascularized tissue, resulting in minimal donor site morbidity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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