The Fate of the Osteotomized Free Radial Forearm Osteocutaneous Flap in Mandible Reconstruction
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The radial forearm osteocutaneous free flap has become a standard method of mandible reconstruction. In order to improve the contour of the reconstructed jaw in large resections, especially the anterior defect, the radial forearm bone graft needs to be osteotomized. The bone graft is nourished by small branches of the radial artery via the fascial connections between the skin flap and bone. The effect of the osteotomy, fixation devices, and the angulation of the bone segment on bone viability and eventual bone healing is not known. Forty-two radial forearm osteocutaneous flaps were used for composite mandible reconstruction. In 25 patients, the bone graft required osteotomy to achieve contour, of which 16 required single osteotomy and nine required double osteotomy. In a remaining 17 cases, no osteotomy was performed. Only those patients who had at least a 1-year follow-up were included in this study. The proportion of patients who achieved bone union was similar for both groups (i.e. osteotomy vs. nonosteotomy). Performing osteotomies on the segment of the radius in free osteocutaneous transfers is safe, and it allows for more flexibility in reconstruction, to achieve a natural-appearing jaw.
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