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J Biomech. 2015 Nov 26;48(15):4149-54. doi: 10.1016/j.jbiomech.2015.10.022. Epub 2015 Oct 26.

Neck incision planning for total laryngectomy: A finite element analysis.

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Department of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA.
Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
Department of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA. Electronic address:


Post-operative complications can be attributed to technical aspects of surgery, yet no studies have investigated the mechanics behind commonly used incisions for total laryngopharyngectomies (TLP). This procedure, seen in head and neck cancer patients, necessitates free tissue transfer to construct a neo-pharynx, creating an inherently greater risk of complications. We sought to investigate the impact of neck incision location on these post-operative complications for TLP using finite element analysis (FEA). A nonlinear hyperelastic 2-D finite element model was used to evaluate the stress and strain along the incision line of two separate neck incision models commonly used for TLP: low-neck apron (LNA) incisions that incorporate the patient׳s tracheostoma and mid-neck apron (MNA) incisions that do not communicate with the tracheostoma. A constant displacement was applied to the incision to simulate normal neck extension experienced during the post-operative phase. Each neck incision was also modeled at varying strain energy densities to simulate various stages of wound healing. For a constant displacement of 40mm, the principal von Mises stress of the LNA incision varied between 5.87 and 6.41MPa, depending on the hyperelastic properties of the healing incision. This stress was concentrated at the junction of the incision and the fixed tracheostomal edge. The MNA model demonstrated a principal von Mises stress that varied between 0.558 and 0.711MPa and was concentrated along the midline of the neck incision. MNA incisions for TL patients result in principal von Mises stresses which are up to 11 times lower than those seen in LNA incisions. These results coincided with clinical observations from a concurrent study that showed a decrease in rate of wound dehiscence for patients undergoing TLP with an MNA incision.


Biomechanics; Finite element analysis; Neck incision; Surgical incision; Total laryngectomy; Wound dehiscence

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