The free vascularized flap and the flap plate options: Comparative results of reconstruction of lateral mandibular defects

Thomas Shpitzer*, Patrick J. Gullane, Peter C. Neligan, Jonathan C. Irish, Jeremy E. Freeman, Michiel Van Den Brekel, Eyal Gur

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives/Hypothesis: Reconstruction of the mandible and oral cavity after segmental resection is a challenging surgical problem. Although osteocutaneous free flaps are generally accepted to be optimal for reconstruction of anterior defects, the need for bony reconstruction for a pure lateral mandibular defect remains controversial. Study Design: A retrospective study. Methods: A retrospective comparative study of short- and long-term outcomes of three different reconstruction techniques for lateral defects was performed. In total, 57 patients were included, of whom 27 had a plate and pedicled pectoralis major myocutaneous flap (PMMF group), 16 had a plate and free radial forearm flap (FRFF group), and 14 had an osteocutaneous free flap. Functionality, flap failure, and complications were scored. Results: Plates had to be removed in 7 of the 27 patients in the PMMF group and 2 of the 16 in the FRFF group; none of the 14 osteocutaneous free flaps failed. The difference was of borderline statistical significance (P = .055). Longterm functional outcome revealed no statistically significant difference in oral deglutition (P = .76) or in facial contour (P = .36). Oral continence was significantly better in patients in the FRFF group (88%) as compared with the PMMF group (52%) or the osteocutaneous free flap group (43%) (P = .02). On the other hand, the results for speech favored the osteocutaneous free flap group; 13 of 14 patients (92.9%) had a normal score compared with 12 of 16 patients (75%) in the FRFF group and 17 of 27 (63%) in the PMMF group. However, this represented a borderline statistically significant result (P = .06). Conclusions: For lateral mandibular defects, the osteocutaneous free flap is reliable and durable in the long term. However, in a selected group of patients either of the two flap-plate options is a viable reconstructive option.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2056-2060
Number of pages5
Issue number12
StatePublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Flap and plate
  • Lateral mandibular defect
  • Osteocutaneous free flap


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