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Head Neck. 1990 Sep-Oct;12(5):377-85.

Reconstruction of complex maxillectomy defects with the scapular-free flap.

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Department of Surgery, Hahnemann University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.


The defect resulting from partial or complete maxillectomy can often be reconstructed with a skin graft and a prosthesis. In situations where this simple maneuver is unsatisfactory, a more complex reconstructive modality, providing the restoration of composite tissue, is required. The scapular microvascular-free flap was used in this series of 11 patients, as a cutaneous flap in 3 and as an osteocutaneous flap in 8, to meet the specific reconstructive needs of each patient. Excellent to satisfactory restoration of facial contour and palatal function was achieved in 10 patients. There was 1 flap failure. There were no donor site complications. Selected case histories are presented to demonstrate a spectrum of reconstructive problems. There are clear limitations to its applicability, such as the odd scapular bone contour, the thickness of the cutaneous paddle, the position change required for flap harvesting, and the risk of flap failure. The scapular flap has proven to be useful in restoring bony and soft tissue contour of the face, rigid support for the velum, oronasal separation, support for the orbit, and obliteration of the maxillary sinus. We found the scapular-free flap to be a useful tool for reconstructing complex and variable maxillectomy defects.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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