Arch Craniofac Surg.  2019 Mar;20(1):17-23. 10.7181/acfs.2018.02061.

Flap selection for reconstruction of wide palatal defect after cancer surgery

  • 1Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Hanyang University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.
  • 2Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Hanyang University Guri Hospital, Hanyang University College of Medicine, Guri, Korea.


The resection of head and neck cancer can result in postoperative defect. Many patients have difficulty swallowing and masticating, and some have difficulty speaking. Various types of flaps are used for palatal reconstruction, but flap selection remains controversial. Therefore, our study will suggest which flap to choose during palatal reconstruction.
Thirteen patients who underwent palatal reconstruction from 30 January, 1989 to 4 October, 2016 at our institution. Size was classified as small when the width was < 4 cm², medium when it was 4-6 cm², and large when it was ≥ 6 cm². Based on speech evaluation, the subjects were divided into a normal group and an easily understood group. After surgery, we assessed whether flap selection was appropriate through the evaluation of flap success, complications, and speech evaluation.
Defect size ranged from 1.5× 2.0 cm to 5.0× 6.0 cm. In four cases, the defect was in the anterior third of the palate, in eight cases it was in the middle, and there was one case of whole palatal defect. There were three small defects, two medium-sized defects, and eight large defects. Latissimus dorsi free flaps were used in six of the eight large defects in the study.
The key to successful reconstructive surgery is appropriate selection of the flap with reference to the characteristics of the defect. Depending on the size and location of the defect, the profiles of different flaps should be matched with the recipient from the outset.


Flaps; Microsurgery; Palate; Reconstruction

MeSH Terms

Free Tissue Flaps
Head and Neck Neoplasms
Superficial Back Muscles
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