Nasal septum perforations from surgical submucous resection, septoplasty, blunt trauma, and substance abuse may cause epistaxis, nasal obstruction, discharge, crusting, dryness, pain, and whistling. While small symptomatic perforations are closed with local mucosal flaps, options for closure of large symptomatic perforations are limited. A local pedicled flap, the facial artery musculomucosal (FAMM) flap was studied in patients with large symptomatic nasal septal defects.
Patients included in the study had (1) a nasal septal defect measuring at least 20 mm in greatest dimension; and (2) related symptoms of nasal crusting, discharge, dryness, obstruction, epistaxis, pain, or whistling. Six patients (3 males; 3 females) met these criteria and received FAMM flap repair. Outcomes were assessed based on comparison of preoperative versus last follow-up (range, 10–30 months; mean 17 months) assessment of perforation size and symptomatology. Overall discomfort was rated at each time point on a 1–10 scale.
Age at time of operation ranged from 21 to 44 years, with a mean of 34 years of age. Causes of septal perforation included blunt trauma (50%), cocaine abuse (33%), and submucous resection (17%). Preoperatively, maximal recorded dimensions of septal perforations ranged from 3.1 to 4.0 cm with a mean of 3.5 ± 0.4 cm. Symptoms included pain (83%), dryness (67%), crusting (50%), discharge (33%), epistaxis (33%), and obstruction (33%). Three or more symptoms were experienced by 5 patients (83%). Overall discomfort ranged from 6–10, with a mean of 8.4. Postoperatively at last follow-up, all 6 patients (100%) achieved closure of their septal defect (P < 0.001). Overall discomfort score was zero for all 6 patients (100%) (P < 0.0001). Complete symptomatic resolution was also noted among all 6 patients (100%) (P < 0.01).
In summary, the advantages of the FAMM flap closure technique were (1) no visible external scar, with minimal donor site morbidity; (2) successful closure of large septal defects (>2 cm) with vascularized tissue in a single stage; and (3) resolution of patient symptomatology.