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Oncol Lett. 2013 Apr;5(4):1335-1342. Epub 2013 Feb 5.

The sternocleidomastoid muscle flap for the prevention of Frey syndrome and cosmetic deformity following parotidectomy: A systematic review and meta-analysis.

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Departments of Stomatology, Taihe Hospital, Hubei University of Medicine, Shiyan 442000;


Approximately 34-86% of neoplasms of the salivary glands are located in the parotid gland and parotidectomy is the first-line treatment for parotid gland tumors. Frey syndrome and cosmetic deformity are common complications experienced by patients following parotidectomy and the sternocleidomastoid muscle flap (SCMF) is used to prevent them. Numerous studies have been performed to examine the effectiveness of the SCMF for the prevention of cosmetic deformity and Frey syndrome, however, they provide contradictory results and possess small sample sizes with consequently low statistical power. In order to evaluate the effectiveness of the SCMF for the prevention of Frey syndrome and cosmetic deformity following parotidectomy, we performed a systematic review and meta-analysis based on published randomized controlled trials (RCTs), which were identified using PubMed and CNKI databases, and references of studies up to August 2012 were included. Using these criteria, we yielded 11 RCTs. Following an independent assessment of the methodological quality of these studies and the extraction of data, a systematic review and meta-analysis was conducted. The results of the meta-analysis demonstrated that there was a significant trend towards a lower risk of objective incidence [67%; risk ratio (RR), 0.33; 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.16-0.67; P<0.01] and subjective incidence (66%; RR, 0.34; 95% CI, 0.16-0.75; P= 0.01) of Frey syndrome in the SCMF group. The sensitivity analysis also indicated that this result was significant. Due to the considerable variation between the included studies, a meta-analysis was not applicable to assess cosmetic deformity. Two RCTs demonstrated that the difference between the SCMF and no SCMF group was not statistically significant, while the other seven RCTs detected a statistically significant difference between the two groups. Publication bias was detected. In conclusion, based on currently available evidence, the use of the SCMF is benefical for the prevention of Frey syndrome, however, whether it is also benefical for cosmetic deformity remains inconclusive.


Frey syndrome; cosmetic deformity; gustatory sweating syndrome; parotidectomy; sternocleidomastoid muscle flap; systematic review

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