Total parotidectomy with facial nerve sacrifice creates 2 challenging reconstructive problems: restoration of facial contour and facial nerve rehabilitation. Strong evidence suggesting that vascularized nerve grafts are superior to nonvascularized nerve grafts motivated our team to develop a chimeric scapulodorsal flap combining the usual harvestable local tissues with the vascularized latissimus dorsi motor nerve (SD-LDVxN). We present our experiences developing a new program at University of California, San Diego, highlighting our first case here, and present preliminary retrospective results focusing on the functional outcomes of facial nerve reanimation.
Materials and Methods
The first case performed in the United States was a 57-year-old woman with stage IVA left parotid adenoid cystic carcinoma and House-Brackmann grade 6 facial palsy. She underwent total parotidectomy with facial nerve sacrifice and a free chimeric SD-LDVxN flap reconstruction. She had an unremarkable postoperative course, and 3- and 6-month follow-up functional results are reported. Preliminary functional results from our total series of 25 patients were reported.
At her 3-month follow-up, she was a House-Brackmann 5 with a static eFACE score of 37, dynamic eFACE score of 31, and smile eFACE score of 48. At her 6-month follow-up, she was a House-Brackmann 5 with a static eFACE score of 50, dynamic eFACE score of 27, and smile eFACE score of 53. Preliminary results from our total series of 25 patients with an average of 5 years of follow-up were a House-Brackmann 2.5 and eFACE scores of 83.1 for static facial symmetry, 67.5 for dynamic facial symmetry, and 77.7 for smile score. Twenty of the 25 patients had postoperative radiotherapy. No local tumor recurrence had been reported. The average reinnervation time was 9 months and ranged from 3 to 15 months.
The SD-LDVxN flap is a highly resourceful solution to reconstruct complex parotid defects, especially those that sacrifice the facial nerve. The vascularized nerve graft allows for primary facial reanimation. Nerve recovery may be superior to what could be expected with a conventional nerve graft.