Free tissue reconstruction of the hypopharynx after organ preservation therapy: Analysis of wound complications

Theodoros N. Teknos, Larry L. Myers, Carol R. Bradford, Douglas B. Chepeha

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


Purpose: Previous series have demonstrated a 77% rate of major wound complications in salvage surgery of the larynx following organ preservation protocols. The purpose of this study is to determine the incidence of wound complications in these patients when microvascular free tissue transfers are used for reconstruction of the hypopharynx. Design: Retrospective case series. Setting: Academic tertiary care center. Patients and Method: We reviewed the medical records of 42 patients with stage III and IV laryngeal squamous cell carcinoma treated with an organ-sparing protocol consisting of induction chemotherapy followed by definitive radiation therapy. Ten of these patients who required surgical salvage were reconstructed using radial forearm free tissue or lateral arm transfer and constitute the study group. Main Outcome Measures: Wound complications. Results: Wound complications occurred in 2 patients (20%) undergoing free flap reconstruction of the hypopharynx after organ preservation protocols, which was significantly lower (P = .003) than previous reports using other forms of closure and/or reconstruction. One patient in this study group had a small pharyngocutaneous fistula that resolved with conservative therapy after I week. The other patient had a larger pharyngocutaneous fistula that resolved over 3 weeks. The mean interval from completion of the chemoradiation regimen to surgery was 21.3 months (range, 2-60 mo). The average free tissue flap size was 94.3 cm2 (range, 45-165 cm2). Average harvest and ischemia times were 59 minutes (range, 41-87 min) and 187.7 minutes (range, 120-240 min), respectively. All flaps survived, and one patient had a minor donor site wound dehiscence. The average hospital stay was 7.8 days. There were no mortalities in this series. Conclusions: Our results suggest that free tissue transfer reconstruction of the hypopharynx is the preferred method of reconstruction following combined chemotherapy and radiation therapy protocols. Surgical complications are significantly reduced and hospital stays are minimized.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1192-1196
Number of pages5
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jan 1 2001


  • Chemotherapy
  • Free tissue transfer
  • Head and neck cancer
  • Organ preservation
  • Radiation therapy
  • Salvage therapy
  • Squamous cell carcinoma
  • Wound healing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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