INTRODUCTION: Reconstructive head and neck surgery is a challenge for the plastic surgeon and requires a large technical arsenal, in which microsurgery plays an essential role. The objective to retrospectively analyze microsurgical head and neck reconstruction performed at the Pontifical Catholic University of Campinas over a period of 2 years.
METHODS: The medical charts of patients who underwent microsurgical reconstruction after head and neck surgery between June 2014 and October 2016 were reviewed to determine which flap was used, the length of the vascular pedicle, recipient vessels, microvascular anastomoses, surgical time, length of hospital stay, complications, and success rate.
RESULTS: Thirty microsurgical reconstructions were performed using 3 types of flaps: anterolateral thigh (n = 15), antebrachial radial (n = 8), and fibula (n = 7). Recipient vessels: facial artery (70%) and facial vein (50%), as 92.4% of microvascular anastomoses were end-to-end. The average operative time was 10.1 hours. The average length of hospital stay was 10.7 days. Two flaps were lost due to arterial thrombosis, resulting in a success rate of 93.3%.
CONCLUSIONS: The microsurgical reconstructions were effective for the repair of complex defects as well as to partially restore the shape and function of the affected tissues. Complications were observed in less than 50% of the cases, although these presented with significant morbidity. The success rate was similar to that reported by major centers of reconstructive microsurgery. The learning curve is long, although it tends to improve with staff training and the acquisition of experience over time.
Keywords: Reconstructive surgical procedures; Microsurgery; Head and neck neoplasms; Surgical flaps.