The temporalis muscle flap in reconstruction of intraoral defects: an appraisal of the technique

Oral Surg Oral Med Oral Pathol Oral Radiol Endod. 2002 Jul;94(1):24-30. doi: 10.1067/moe.2002.126077.


Purpose: The purpose of this article is to review the experience of the authors in the use of the temporalis muscle flap for reconstruction of intraoral defects.

Patients and methods: This is a retrospective review of the use of the temporalis muscle flap for reconstruction of different types of intraoral defects in 8 patients. All patients in this series previously wore obturators as a nonsurgical treatment of their defects. Criteria used to evaluate the results of this technique included flap necrosis, facial nerve deficit, limitation of mandibular range of motion, and cosmetic deformity from scarring of the incision line or from loss of muscle volume in the temporal fossa. The patients were also evaluated for their degree of satisfaction with their speech and mastication with the obturator preoperatively and with the flap postoperatively. This article also reviews the success rates and complications with use of the temporalis muscle flap reported in the English-language literature during the past 14 years.

Results: All 8 patients in this series had their defects successfully reconstructed, completely eliminating any further need for prosthetic obturation of the defect. There were no incidents of flap necrosis, facial nerve deficit, or long-term changes in mandibular range of motion. Slight temporal hollowing was seen in the first 3 patients. Results of the literature review also showed a high success rate and a low incidence of complications with use of this flap.

Conclusions: The temporalis flap is a useful, reliable, and versatile option for reconstruction of moderate to large sized defects. The muscle can provide abundant tissue, with minimal to no functional morbidity or esthetic deformity in the donor site.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cleft Palate / surgery
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mastication
  • Maxilla / surgery*
  • Middle Aged
  • Oral Surgical Procedures / methods*
  • Palatal Neoplasms / rehabilitation
  • Palatal Obturators
  • Palate, Hard / surgery*
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Reconstructive Surgical Procedures / methods
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Speech
  • Surgical Flaps*
  • Temporal Muscle / transplantation*