The purpose of this study was to define the role of reconstruction plates as bone replacement in oromandibular reconstruction. From 1987 through 1991, 71 consecutive oral cancer patients underwent composite resection and reconstruction and were entered into one of two studies. In the first study of 31 patients, 15 underwent oromandibular reconstruction using a radial forearm osteocutaneous flap, while the remainder (16) received a radial forearm fasciocutaneous flap together with a mandibular reconstruction plate. The second study involved 40 subsequent patients, all receiving the latter form of reconstruction. Twenty-one of the plates were stainless steel, and the remaining 19 were of the titanium hollow screw (THORP) type. We followed the patients prospectively.
We defined success as a reconstruction that we did not have to remove. Additionally, since the patients had limited life expectancy, we developed the idea of days of life lost and incorporated it into our definition of a successful outcome. Vascularized autogenous bone proved to be more successful than metallic plates used alone in terms both of reconstruction survival and of minimizing days of life lost. The overall success rate of mandibular plate reconstruction was 78.9 percent, but analysis by defect type revealed a failure rate of 35 percent when the defects were anterior and only 5 percent when they were lateral. THORP plates demonstrated a trend towards more durability. We would now recommend plate reconstruction only in lateral defects in patients with a poor prognosis. (Plast. Reconstr. Surg. 95: 1018, 1995.)
©1995American Society of Plastic Surgeons