To determine if a rectangular template free tissue transfer is effective for the reconstruction of the hemiglossectomy defect.
Prospective case series.
Tertiary care academic medical center.
A total of 13 patients (male to female ratio, 8:5; mean age, 55 years) presenting with squamous cell carcinoma of the oral tongue from May 2000 to December 2002.
Of the 13 patients, 7 received postoperative radiotherapy and 2 received prior radiotherapy. The radial forearm was the donor site in 11 patients and the lateral arm and anterolateral thigh in 1 patient each. The mean flap area was 50 cm2 (range, 24-80 cm2).
Main Outcome Measures
Major and minor complications, speech and swallowing assessment, oral cavity obliteration, premaxillary contact, tongue elevation, and tongue protrusion.
There were no major complications, and 2 of the 13 patients experienced minor complications. Of the 13 patients, 12 achieved the goals of oral cavity obliteration and premaxillary contact and resumed solid oral intake. One patient remained G-tube dependent owing to toxic effects from previous chemoradiation treatment. The mean tongue tip protrusion was 0.7 cm (range, 0-1.7 cm), and the mean elevation was 1.7 cm (range, 1-3 cm). Patients with protrusion greater than 0.8 cm had better swallowing scores for “range of solids” (5.8 of 6 vs 3.9 of 6; P = .045) and “eating in public” (4.6 of 5 vs 3.5 of 5; P = .10). The average patient resumed a full range of liquid and solid intake with minimal restrictions and believed that their speech was mostly understandable with occasional repetition.
The template-based rectangle tongue flap effectively restored speech and swallowing function in this group of patients. Tongue protrusion greater than 0.8 cm is associated with better swallowing results.