Introduction: While many report success with microvascular free tissue transfer, few aim to stratify postoperative morbidity. Postoperative complications vary from the insignificant to the life threatening, and may in rare circumstances result in mortality.
Aims: To evaluate the application of an established postoperative complication classification system used in general surgery to head and neck oncology patients
Patients and methods: A prospective cohort study has been undertaken on a consecutive series of head and neck oncology patients that were undergoing ablative and microvascular reconstruction surgery in a single maxillofacial unit. Patients treated between August 2009 and February 2011 were evaluated, and complications were scored based on an established classification system (Clavien).
Results: 130 patients were evaluated and postoperative complications were graded. Severity of complications was compared to preoperative medical comorbidity, nutritional status, operative time and perioperative steroid and blood products use.
Conclusions: A classification of postoperative surgical complications can be applied to head and neck cancer patients and allows meaningful conclusions to be drawn from postoperative analytical studies. While larger patient populations still need to be investigated, this study offers insight to severity of complications and how best to provide quality assurance to our patients.
Conflict of interest: None declared.