Free flap surgery is overall considered the gold standard in head and neck reconstruction, with a success rate of 95%. The management of a total flap necrosis and which solution, between a pedicled or a second free flap, is safer for a salvage procedure is still controversial. Object of this study is to describe the authors' management of total free flap loss in head and neck reconstruction and compare the choices and results to those reported in the literature. From January 2012 to January 2016, 149 consecutive free flaps were performed at the Maxillo- Facial Operative Unit of the Hospital Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza in San Giovanni Rotondo (Italy) for reconstruction of head and neck defects. Of these, 6 flaps were lost due to a total necrosis. In 5 cases it was decided to harvest a second free flap, and in the remaining patient a temporalis muscle flap was used. All the free salvage flaps were successful, without complications and with a good aesthetic and functional recovery. Analysing the data obtained, and comparing them with those reported in the literature, it can be concluded that a second subsequent free flap can be considered an ideal and safe procedure in salvage surgery.
- Journal Article