The supraclavicular artery island (SAI) rotational flap may have advantages compared with free-tissue transfer in head and neck reconstruction. Because this flap has not been extensively described for head and neck reconstruction of oncologic defects, guidelines for its indications would benefit the reconstructive surgeon.
To describe the applications and limitations of the SAI flap as an alternative to free-tissue transfer in reconstruction of head and neck defects.
Design, Setting, and Participants
Retrospective case series of 45 patients with defects related to malignant and nonmalignant disease undergoing reconstructive surgery from August 18, 2010, through September 28, 2012, at an academic, tertiary referral center. Each defect was deemed unsuitable for primary or local flap closure and would require regional tissue or free-tissue transfer. Mean follow-up was 10.3 (range, 1-31) months.
Use of the SAI flap for reconstruction of soft-tissue defects of the head and neck.
Main Outcomes and Measures
Defect site, flap dimensions, time to raise the flap, and complications.
Defects of the oral cavity, oropharynx, laryngopharynx, esophagus, trachea, temporal bone, and cervicofacial skin underwent reconstruction. Mean flap dimensions were 6.1 cm wide and 21.4 cm long, with a mean skin paddle length of 7.9 cm. Harvest time was less than 1 hour. Donor-site complications included minor dehiscence in 6 patients and prolonged wound care in 2. Partial skin flap necrosis occurred in 8 patients, whereas 2 had complete loss of the skin paddle. Seven patients developed a salivary fistula, 4 of which healed spontaneously. Flap length greater than 22 cm correlated with flap necrosis (P = .02). A history positive for smoking correlated with an increased risk of flap dehiscence (P = .02).
Conclusions and Relevance
The SAI flap provides an alternative to free-tissue transfer for soft-tissue reconstruction after head and neck oncologic surgery. This flap is easy to harvest and versatile. However, the SAI flap has limitations in length and, because it is a rotational flap, is less capable of reconstructing some complex head and neck defects.