Background: Resections of oromandibular squamous cell carcinoma involving lateral mandible, oral cavity, and the skin, lead to composite oromandibular defects that can be approached in several ways depending on the extension of the bone defect, of the soft tissue and cutaneous resection, the patient's general status and the prognosis. Purpose of the study is to evaluate retrospectively functional and esthetic outcome obtained with different reconstructive technique employed. Methods: A retrospective evaluation of 42 patients has been performed. The study population consisted of 24 males (57.1%) and 18 females (42.9%), ranging in age from 25 to 81 years (mean, 62.6 years). The primary location of the tumor was the mandibular alveolar crest (18 cases), retromolar trigon (9), floor of the mouth (8), cheek (5), and oral commissure (2). For reconstruction a single free flap technique was used eight times; a double free flap technique, seven times; free and locoregional flap association, 25 times; and a single locoregional flap and two associated locoregional flaps, one time each. Postoperative follow-up ranged from 12 to 144 months. Final results were evaluated with regards to deglutition, speech, oral competence, and esthetic outcome. Results: When free bone-containing flaps or two free flaps technique were used, the functional results were better (normal diet, 67%-71%; good oral competence, 100%-71%; good or intelligible speech, 100%-86%). When free and locoregional flap association was chosen, the esthetic results were best (excellent, 76%; acceptable 24%; poor 0%). The worst results were obtained with the use of a single free soft tissue flap and with the use of single or double locoregional flap technique. Conclusion: Bone reconstruction of the lateral mandible is indicated whenever possible. In elderly or poor prognosis patients acceptable results can be achieved with free soft tissue flaps techniques. When the defect involves different structures of the oral cavity, the best results are provided by the association of two free flaps. Finally, the association of free and locoregional flaps is a good option for external coverage reconstruction.
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