Although the radial forearm free flap has become a workhorse flap in head and neck reconstruction, the skin grafting of the donor is the main drawback resulting in an unacceptable contour deformity and an unsightly appearance. Several technical modifications have been therefore applied to the radial forearm (RF) flap marking, elevation, and inset to overcome this major shortcoming. In this article, we report our clinical series with the bipaddle RF flap.
The authors described their 11 cases of head and neck oncologic reconstruction with the bipaddle RF flap. The skin island is designed longer and narrower and split into 2 separate skin paddles each nourished by a proximal and a distal independent perforators raising from the radial artery so that the donor site could be closed directly. The narrow design of the skin paddle and the subsequent splitting in its 2 components applying the “perforator-pedicle propeller flap method” allow for the changing of the flap shape according to the shape of the recipient site defect.
From 2007 to 2013, the bipaddle RF flap method was used in 11 patients to restore head and neck defects following cancer ablation. The mean age of the patients was 43 years, ranging from 31 to 50 years. The location of the defects was the tongue (n = 7) and the intraoral region (n = 4). The defect sizes varied from 4 × 5 cm to 5 × 6 cm, and the flap maximum width was 3 cm with mean area of 26.4 cm2. The healing was uneventful in all patients with excellent cosmetic and functional results of both donor site and recipient site after 20 months of mean follow-up.
The bipaddle RF free flap is a reliable and versatile option for the reconstruction of a wide range of soft tissue defects of head and neck region. This method allows for a customized resurfacing of the defect because of its large variability in shape and size. The harvesting site is closed primarily, and a second donor site for skin graft is avoided.
Clinical Question, Level of Evidence: Therapeutic, IV