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Int J Oral Maxillofac Surg. 2012 Apr;41(4):448-52. doi: 10.1016/j.ijom.2012.01.016. Epub 2012 Feb 22.

Analysis of 13 cases of venous compromise in 178 radial forearm free flaps for intraoral reconstruction.

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  • 1Department of Stomatology, Changzheng Hospital, Second Military Medical University, Shanghai, PR China.


The purpose of this study was to analyse the causes of venous compromise and flap failure in radial forearm free flap (RFFF) surgery for intraoral reconstruction. One hundred seventy-eight RFFF reconstructions were reviewed retrospectively for intraoral defects. Of the 13 flaps with venous obstruction, 9 flaps were salvaged, and 4 were lost, with a salvage rate of 69.2%. Eleven venous occlusions occurred within the first 72h. The main reasons for venous failure were mechanical obstruction or technical errors due to inadequate pedicle length and geometry, inadequate venous drainage, compression and kinking of the vein. The main cause of failure for oropharynx reconstruction was unrecognized vascular events due to the lack of reliable monitoring for buried flap. Oozing of dusky blood from the flap margin may be directly related to venous congestion in the early postoperative period and a late indication of a change in skin colour. In conclusion, a thorough operative plan, including carefully selected drainage vein for the flap and recipient vessels, adequate pedicle length and geometry, precise surgical technique, avoidance of haematoma, and expert monitoring of buried flaps may improve the success rate of RFFF transfer in intraoral reconstruction.

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