Scapular osseous free flap in head and neck reconstruction: An assessment of the postoperative function of the donor site

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Background: The scapular osseous free flap (SOFF) has become an important reconstructive option for complex head and neck defects. Postoperative donor site function is, however, an important consideration. The objective of this study was to prospectively investigate SOFF donor site morbidity and to relate the findings to hand dominance and neck dissection. Methods: Objective assessment included bilateral measurement of shoulder, elbow, and hand range of motion (ROM), hand strength, and distal nerve function in consecutive patients with head and neck cancer SOFF reconstruction at a tertiary referral center in Sweden between 2016 and 2019. The subjective function was assessed by the Disability of the Arm, Shoulder and Hand (DASH) questionnaire. Results: Sixteen of 20 consecutive patients were evaluated (median follow-up 10 months [range 3–17]). Significant side differences in shoulder range of motion (ROM) (flexion, abduction, external and internal rotation) were observed for patients where the SOFF had been harvested from the same side as their dominant hand (n = 9; Ps ≤ 0.04). For patients where the SOFF was harvested from the non-dominant hand side, no significant shoulder ROM side differences were observed (n = 7; Ps ≥ 0.08). There were significant side differences in shoulder ROM for patients who underwent neck dissections (n = 12; Ps ≤ 0.03), not for the other four patients. Patients reported low but varying DASH scores (median 2.5, range 0–57). Conclusion: Postoperative donor site morbidity seems to be quite acceptable after SOFF surgery. The results indicate possible benefits of choosing the non-dominant hand side for the SOFF and that a neck dissection affects postoperative shoulder outcome. Further studies are however needed.

Sidor (från-till)753-760
TidskriftJournal of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery
Tidigt onlinedatum2021
StatusPublished - 2022

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