Purpose: Perforating oral and maxillofacial defects frequently cause severe functional disorders. Microvascular free flaps like the radial forearm flap and the latissimus dorsi flap have been described to cover those defects; however, harvest of the radial forearm flap causes remarkable donor-site morbidity, while the latissimus dorsi flap often turns out to be too bulky. Therefore we introduce the serratus anterior muscle as a versatile and reliable microvascular flap to cover defects of both the floor of the mouth and the maxilla.
Patients and methods: Between 2003 and 2007, 10 oral defects were reconstructed using the serratus anterior flap. In 5 of the cases, the defects were located at the hard palate and maxilla, while in the other cases they were located in the floor of the mouth.
Results: All of the patients were able to feed orally within the first week postoperatively. Donor-site morbidity was observed to be negligible not least because of the achievement of primary tension-free wound closure. Successful reconstruction could be observed in 8 of 10 patients.
Conclusion: Although the serratus anterior muscle flap lacks an epithelial layer, this flap is not restricted to a subcutaneous placement. Due to rapid epithelialization, the serratus anterior muscle is even suitable for perforating intraoral defects.