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Ann Maxillofac Surg. 2013 Jan;3(1):72-9. doi: 10.4103/2231-0746.110059.

Microsurgical free flaps: Controversies in maxillofacial reconstruction.

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1
Department of Head & Neck Oncology & Reconstructive Surgery, Cancer Institute (W.I.A), Adyar, Chennai, India.

Abstract

Reconstructive microsurgery for oral and maxillofacial (OMF) defects is considered as a niche specialty and is performed regularly only in a handful of centers. Till recently the pectoralis major myocutaneous flap (PMMC) was considered to be the benchmark for OMF reconstruction. This philosophy is changing fast with rapid advancement in reconstructive microsurgery. Due to improvement in instrumentation and the development of finer techniques of flap harvesting we can positively state that microsurgery has come of age. Better techniques, microscopes and micro instruments enable us to do things previously unimaginable. Supramicrosurgery and ultrathin flaps are a testimony to this. Years of innovation in reconstructive microsurgery have given us a reasonably good number of very excellent flaps. Tremendous work has been put into producing some exceptionally brilliant research articles, sometimes contradicting each other. This has led to the need for clarity in some areas in this field. This article will review some controversies in reconstructive microsurgery and analyze some of the most common microvascular free flaps (MFF) used in OMF reconstruction. It aims to buttress the fact that three flaps-the radial forearm free flap (RFFF), anterolateral thigh flap (ALT) and fibula are the ones most expedient in the surgeon's arsenal, since they can cater to almost all sizeable defects we come across after ablative surgery in the OMF region. They can thus aptly be titled as the workhorses of OMF reconstruction with regard to free flaps.

KEYWORDS:

Microvascular free flaps; oral and maxillofacial surgery; reconstructive microsurgery

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