We aimed to present our surgical techniques and experience using free lateral thoracic (LT) flaps for oral and maxillofacial reconstruction.
Methods: From 2006 to 2010, we reconstructed 28 cases of oral and maxillofacial soft tissue defects using LT flaps. Controls were 54 cases reconstructed with forearm flaps during same period. Patients were monitored for flap survival in hospital until discharge and then followed regularly for 3–38 months, assessing for tumour recurrence, flap appearance, donor site function and cosmesis.
Results: All patients had free flaps except for one LT pedicle flap. LT flap patients were significantly younger than controls (45.5 vs. 54.8 years, p = 0.004) and had greater flap size than controls (55.2 cm 2 vs. 40.3 cm 2 , p = 0.001). Of 28 LT flaps transferred, 26 survived completely; 1 failed (total necrosis due to venous insufficiency), and 1 suffered tip necrosis. No significant differences were observed in flap survival between groups. Follow-up was shorter in LT flap patients than in controls (20.3 months vs. 26.9 months, p = 0.02).
Conclusion: Application of the LT flap is a reliable technique for reconstruction of maxillofacial defects with minimal donor site morbidity and favorable aesthetic outcomes.