Laryngoscope 2020 Jun 3. Epub 2020 Jun 3.
USC Caruso Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.
Objectives/hypothesis: The supraclavicular artery island (SAI) flap may be a good option for selected head and neck reconstruction due to its reliability, ease of harvest, and favorable color match. The objective of this study was to examine the rates of complications for the SAI flap in head and neck oncologic reconstruction, with examination of risk factors and comparisons to alternative flaps often considered the gold-standard soft-tissue flaps for head and neck reconstruction: the pectoralis myocutaneous (PMC), radial forearm free flap (RFFF), and anterolateral thigh (ALT) flaps.
Study Design: Retrospective cohort study.
Methods: Consecutive SAI flaps were compared to PMC, RFFF, and ALT flaps (non-SAI flap group), all performed by the senior author from 2010 to 2018. The non-SAI flaps were included if an SAI flap could have been performed as an alternate flap. The groups were compared based on demographics, flap dimensions, site of reconstruction, operating time, total hospital stay, total hospital costs, and complications.
Results: One hundred seven SAI flaps and 194 non-SAI flaps were identified. SAI flaps were used less commonly than non-SAI flaps for mucosal defects (P < .001). The SAI flap dimensions were narrower but longer than non-SAI flaps (P < .001). SAI flaps had higher rates of total complications, partial flap necrosis, flap dehiscence at the recipient site, fistula, donor site dehiscence, and minor complications compared to non-SAI flaps (all P < .05). SAI flaps had higher rates of total complications, recipient site dehiscence, fistula, and minor complications in both the oral cavity and all mucosal sites compared to non-SAI flaps (all P < .05). SAI flaps for mucosal reconstruction were associated with higher rates of total complications (54% vs. 34%, P = .04), flap dehiscence at the recipient site (32% vs. 14%, P = .03), and major complications (21% vs. 5%, P = .02), compared to cutaneous reconstruction. Complications were equivalent between SAI flaps and non-SAI flaps for cutaneous reconstruction (all P > .05). Multivariate analysis showed that SAI flaps were associated with any postoperative complication (odds ratio [OR]: 3.47, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.85-6.54), partial flap necrosis (OR: 5.69, 95% CI: 1.83-17.7), flap dehiscence (OR: 5.36, 95% CI: 2.29-12.5), donor site complications (OR: 11.6, 95% CI: 3.27-41.0), and minor complications (OR: 5.17, 95% CI: 2.42-11.0). Within the SAI flap group, SAI flap length >24 cm was associated with postoperative complications on multivariate analysis (OR: 5.09, 95% CI: 1.02-25.5, P = .048).
Conclusions: The SAI flap is best suited for cutaneous reconstruction of the face, neck, and parotid/temporal bone regions due to the favorable color match; the thin, pliable nature of the skin; ease of harvest; and equivalent complication rates compared to alternate soft-tissue flaps. However, the SAI flap is associated with more complications for oral cavity and mucosal site reconstruction when compared to RFFF and ALT flaps and should be used in selected cases that do not require complex folding. For all sites, flaps longer than 24 cm should be used with caution.
Level Of Evidence: 3 Laryngoscope, 2020.