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Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery:
doi: 10.1097/01.PRS.0000076217.58995.E2
Original Articles

Noma: Experiences with a Microvascular Approach under West African Conditions

Giessler, Goetz A. M.D.; Schmidt, Andreas B. M.D.

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Abstract

Noma (cancrum oris) is a serious ulcerating disease that generally begins in the gingival sulcus of children. One of the main areas of prevalence today is West Africa. If noma is survived, it results in disfiguring midfacial defects and intense scarring. Oral incompetence is often combined with trismus resulting from scar formation or bony fusion between the maxilla and the mandible. Reconstructive approaches with pedicled flaps from the head or shoulder area for closure of the outer defects have been prone to donor-site complications or have not properly addressed the trismus, leading to high recurrence rates. During three West African Interplast missions, a single-stage procedure was developed for reconstruction of the inner and outer linings of the oral, nasal, and paranasal cavities, with restoration of jaw function. The procedure consists of radical scar excision, placement of an external distractor for mouth opening, and primary closure of the defect with a folded free parascapular flap for full-thickness coverage. Twenty-three patients with various noma-related defects were treated with this procedure; two cases are described in detail. This combined treatment can be a safe successful procedure for patients with noma, especially those with severe soft-tissue destruction and profound trismus, even under demanding surgical conditions.

©2003American Society of Plastic Surgeons

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