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Cost and Outcome of Osteocutaneous Free-Tissue Transfer versus Pedicled Soft-Tissue Reconstruction for Composite Mandibular Defects.

Talesnik, Andres M.D.; Markowitz, Bernard M.D.; Calcaterra, Thomas M.D.; Ahn, Christina M.D.; Shaw, William M.D.
Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery: May 1996
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: Thirty-nine patients underwent reconstruction of composite mandibular defects following resection for squamous cell carcinoma. Thirty-four underwent immediate reconstruction, while 5 were reconstructed secondarily. Twenty-one received soft-tissue reconstruction only with a pectoralis major myocutaneous flap, 14 underwent osteocutaneous free-tissue transfer, and 4 received a reconstruction plate with free-tissue transfer for soft-tissue coverage.

The mandibular defects in the pectoralis major myocutaneous flap group tended to be posterolateral, while free-tissue transfer defects were more severe, usually involving the anterior mandible. Length of surgery and duration of intensive care unit care were significantly longer for free-tissue transfer patients, while length of hospitalization was similar. Systemic complications were more frequent in the free-tissue transfer patients, while flap complications were more common in the pectoralis major myocutaneous flap patients.

Facial appearance scores were higher for the free-tissue transfer group by both patient and physician assessment. Social function, speech, and oral function did not differ significantly. Patients reconstructed secondarily with free-tissue transfer reported significant improvement in appearance, oral continence, and social function, with little change in speech intelligibility, deglutition, or diet tolerance. The cost of the main hospitalization was significantly higher in the free-tissue transfer group than in the pectoralis major myocutaneous flap group, although when the costs of subsequent hospitalizations are included, the difference in total cost narrows.

Despite more adverse defects, free-tissue transfer provided more predictable aesthetic results and expeditious return to normal social function than did pectoralis major myocutaneous flap reconstruction. The fiscal impact of these complex reconstructions is, however, significant. Cost-containment issues are presented and recommendations are made. (Plast. Reconstr. Surg. 97: 1167, 1996.)

(C)1996American Society of Plastic Surgeons