The supraclavicular artery island flap (SCAIF) in head and neck reconstruction: an Italian multi-institutional experience

L Giordano, D Di Santo, S Bondi, F Marchi, A Occhini, G Bertino, A Grammatica, G Parrinello, G Peretti, M Benazzo, P Nicolai, M Bussi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The supraclavicular artery island flap (SCAIF) is a thin and pliable pedicled flap that is easy and quick to harvest. Thanks to its particular features and high reliability, it is best indicated for the elderly or most fragile patients. SCAIF is very versatile, as it can be used for reconstruction of oral cavity, oropharynx, hypopharynx, facial and cervical skin and tracheostomal defects. We began using this flap in four Italian tertiary referral centres, with several indications, both as first treatment and as salvage surgery. The aim of the study was to demonstrate the easy reproducibility of the flap among four different centres. A series of 28 patients underwent head and neck reconstructions with SCAIF with no recorded complications during flap harvesting. After the very first cases, harvesting time was approximately 45 minutes; 24 patients had successful flap integration at the recipient site, while the remaining 4 suffered from partial flap necrosis, two of whom needed revision surgery. Other minor complications were reported at the recipient site, always at the most distal and most delicate portion of the flap. Donor site was always closed primarily, with only three cases of partial suture dehiscence. We only selected the most fragile patients for SCAIF reconstruction, such as the elderly or those with one or more comorbidities; for this reason, we reported some serious systemic complications and one intraoperative death. SCAIF is an easy reproducible flap, with multiple possible indications. Its use as an alternative to free flaps in the head and neck region is nowadays under discussion. Its use should be encouraged among head and neck surgeons thanks to its various advantages.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)497-503
Number of pages7
JournalActa Otorhinolaryngologica Italica
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018


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