An outcome comparison of superficial versus deep plane dissection of cervicofacial flaps: A systematic review and meta-analysis
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PURPOSE: Cervicofacial flaps represent an excellent option for coverage of cheek defects secondary to oncologic resection, trauma or infection. However, there remains clinical equipoise regarding whether superficial plane or deep plane dissection results in the lowest rates of complications and optimal outcomes. METHODS: A systematic review and meta-analysis of proportions was conducted to assesses outcomes between cheek reconstruction superficial plane or deep plane cervicofacial flaps. Outcome measures included flap necrosis, ectropion, hematoma formation, facial nerve injury, and requirement for further operative or non-operative intervention. RESULTS: Of 881 citations identified for review, 10 met the inclusion criteria. In total, 284 patients received superficial plane flaps while 44 patients received deep plane flaps. Overall, reported rates of complications were low for cervicofacial flaps. The proportion of necrosis, ectropion, and hematoma were 3.05% (95% CI: 0.00-10.71%), 2.03% (95% CI: 0.41-4.42%), and 0.05% (95% CI: 0.00-3.29%), respectively. No cases of permanent facial nerve injury were reported. Sub-group analysis demonstrated comparable rates of complications between superficial and deep plane dissection and no difference was found between groups. Other complications were noted with low incidence. CONCLUSIONS: Currently published literature demonstrates that superficial and deep plane cervicofacial flaps exhibit similar rates of complications, although there is a low level of evidence overall. Overall, the rates of flap necrosis (3.05%), ectropion (2.03%), and hematoma (0.05%) are low. Notably, there were no reported cases of permanent facial nerve injury from either technique.
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