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Plast Reconstr Surg. 1997 Jun;99(7):1905-21.

Analysis of 100 cases of free-muscle transplantation for facial paralysis.

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International Institute of Reconstructive Microsurgery, Narfolk, Va., USA.


Free-muscle transplantation is the treatment of choice for long-standing facial paralysis. It enables the reconstructive surgeon to restore facial movement and some emotional animation. Despite all technical innovations and 20 years of experience with free-muscle transplantation, the aesthetic and functional outcomes of the surgery are still unpredictable. The present report reviews 100 free-muscle transplantations to the face by a single surgeon and analyzes various preoperative, intraoperative, and postoperative factors in relation to the functional recovery of the muscle transplants. These factors were demographic variables such as age, gender, and etiology as well as intraoperative variables such as choice of muscles, number of nerve coaptations, and ischemia time of the muscle. Additionally, four independent raters not involved in the care of these patients rated standardized preoperative and postoperative videos and judged the functional and aesthetic outcomes. From 1981 to 1993, 93 patients with facial paralysis underwent free-muscle transplantation. A total of 100 muscles were transplanted, since 7 patients received two muscle transplants. There were 33 male and 60 female patients ranging in age from 3 to 57 years, with an average of 22.2 +/- 14.9 years. The gracilis muscle was used in 63 cases of free-muscle transplantation, while the pectoralis minor was used in 34 cases. In 2 patients a segment of the rectus abdominis was transferred, and in 1 patient a small segment of the latissimus dorsi was transferred. In 89 patients the onset of muscle function was reported. The range was from 6 to 48 weeks postoperatively. The average was 21.6 +/- 9.14 weeks after muscle transplantation. The correlations showed a trend to earlier onset of function and higher aesthetic rating in young female patients. The intraoperative ischemia of the free muscle did not correlate with the onset of muscle function. Using a five-step scale of judgments, a higher postoperative rating was seen in 94 percent of the patients, and 80 percent of all patients achieved a moderate or better result.

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