OBJECTIVE: Review long-term clinical and quality-of-life outcomes following free flap reconstruction for osteonecrosis.STUDY DESIGN: Retrospective multi-institutional review.SETTING: Tertiary care centers.METHODS: Patients included those undergoing free flap reconstructions for osteonecrosis of the head and neck (N = 232). Data included demographics, defect, donor site, radiation history, perioperative management, diet status, recurrence rates, and long-term quality-of-life outcomes. Quality-of-life outcomes were measured using the University of Washington Quality of Life (UW-QOL) survey.RESULTS: Overall flap success rate was 91% (n = 212). Relative to preoperative diet, 15% reported improved diet function at 3 months following reconstruction and 26% at 5 years. Osteonecrosis recurred in 14% of patients (32/232); median time to onset was 11 months. Cancer recurrence occurred in 13% of patients (29/232); median time to onset was 34 months. Results from the UW-QOL questionnaire were as follows: no pain (45%), minor or no change in appearance (69%), return to baseline endurance level (37%), no limitations in recreation (40%), no changes in swallowing following reconstruction (28%), minor or no limitations in mastication (29%), minor or no speech difficulties (93%), no changes in shoulder function (84%), normal taste function (19%), normal saliva production (27%), generally excellent mood (44%), and no or minimal anxiety about cancer (94%).CONCLUSION: The majority of patients maintained or had advancement in diet following reconstruction, with low rates of osteonecrosis or cancer recurrence and above-average scores on UW-QOL survey suggesting good return of function and quality of life.
View details for DOI 10.1177/0194599821990682
View details for PubMedID 33618563