The purpose of this study was to assess and discuss the effects of old age and systemic diseases on complications related to the use of a pectoralis major myocutaneous flap (PMMF) for reconstruction in head and neck surgery. Eighty-four consecutive patients, operated on between January 1992 and December 1998, were included in the study. Of these patients, 47 were in relatively good condition, while 37were old and frail or affected by systemic diseases. Patients were monitored for complications during a follow-up of 2 years. All patients included in the study had very advanced squamous cell carcinomas (T3-T4) and reconstruction with PMMF was performed after a commando procedure, a total laryngectomy with partial pharyngectomy, or a composite resection. Necrosis of skin island was the most frequently encountered complication, but no surgical intervention was needed. Overall, complications occurred more frequently in patients with underlying pathologies, the risk ratio adjusted for age and sex being 2.94, but 95% confidence intervals were 0.99-8.65 and all complications were minor. In summary, we recommend the use of PMMF for immediate repair in difficult patients who have large oropharyngolaryngeal excisions and radical neck dissections and who suffer concomitantly with various medical problems known to increase complication rates. PMMF proved to be suitable to give these patients good chances of a quick recovery with satisfactory aesthetic and functional results.
- Head and neck surgery
- Pectoralis major myocutaneous flap
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