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Transaxillary latissimus dorsi flap reconstruction in head and neck cancer:Limitations and refinements in 56 cases

Elsevier Inc.
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/0002-9610(85)90148-5


Abstract The transaxillary latissimus dorsi musculocutaneous flap is suitable whenever a large volume of tissue is required for head and neck reconstruction. Fifty-six transaxillary latissimus dorsi musculocutaneous flap reconstructions were performed in 55 patients. There were two cases of complete flap necrosis and eight cases of partial flap necrosis. The latissimus dorsi vascular pedicle is separate from the irradiated field. The pedicled latissimus dorsi flap provides coverage of the orbitocranium, including the supraorbital region and central portion of the upper face. In the event that the pedicled latissimus dorsi flap does not reach far enough cephalad, the nutrient vessels may be separated from the axillary artery and anastomosed to vessels in the neck. Combined defects of the esophagus, mandibulofacial region, and neck may be reconstructed with a single large latissimus dorsi flap. Hairless skin particularly suitable for oral cavity reconstruction is usually available. Aesthetic and functional deficits are minimal after latissimus dorsi reconstruction. Disadvantages of this technique include repositioning of the patient, increased blood loss, and longer operating time. Permanent brachial plexus injury may occur. The latissimus dorsi musculocutaneous flap should not be used when defects can be reconstructed by simpler methods.

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