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Identification of independent risk factors for flap failure: A retrospective analysis of 1530 free flaps for breast, head and neck and extremity reconstruction



Identification of independent risk factors for flap failure: A retrospective analysis of 1530 free flaps for breast, head and neck and extremity reconstruction



Journal of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery 69(7): 894-906



Reconstructive microsurgery is a powerful method of treating various complex defects. However, flap loss remains a possibility, leading to additional surgery, hospitalisation and costs. Consequently, it is important to know which factors lead to an increased risk of flap failure, so that measures can be undertaken to reduce this risk. Therefore, we analysed our results over a 20-year period to identify risk factors for flap failure after breast, head and neck and extremity reconstruction. The medical files of all patients treated between 1992 and 2012 were reviewed. Patient characteristics, surgical data and post-operative complications were scored, and independent risk factors for flap loss were identified. Reconstruction with a total of 1530 free flaps was performed in 1247 patients. Partial and total flap loss occurred in 5.5% and 4.4% of all free flaps, respectively. In all flaps, signs of compromised flap circulation were a risk factor for flap failure. More specifically, the risk factors for flap failure in breast reconstruction were previous radiotherapy, venous anastomosis revision, gluteal artery perforator (GAP) flap choice and post-operative bleeding. In head and neck reconstruction, pulmonary co-morbidity and anastomosis to the lingual vein or superficial temporal artery were risk factors, whereas a radial forearm flap reduced the risk. In extremity reconstruction, diabetes, prolonged anaesthesia time and post-operative wound infection were risk factors. Independent pre-, intra- and post-operative risk factors for flap failure after microvascular breast, head and neck and extremity reconstruction were identified. These results may be used to improve patient counselling and to adjust treatment algorithms to further reduce the chance of flap failure.

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Accession: 058039653

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 26980600

DOI: 10.1016/j.bjps.2016.02.001


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