Quality of life for patients requiring surgical resection and reconstruction for mandibular osteoradionecrosis: 10-year experience at the University of California San Francisco

Head Neck. 2012 Feb;34(2):207-12. doi: 10.1002/hed.21715. Epub 2011 May 16.


Background: Mandibular osteoradionecrosis is the most devastating complication after radiation therapy for head and neck malignancies. Quality of life (QOL) after surgical treatment is unclear.

Methods: A retrospective cohort analysis (1997-2007) was conducted of all patients treated at our institution for stage II and III mandibular osteoradionecrosis. Nineteen of 35 patients responded to a modified University of Washington QOL questionnaire. Twenty had undergone reconstruction using free flaps, and the remainder with plates, plates and local flaps, or debridement alone.

Results: Complications included 3 infections, 5 with hardware, 5 flap-specific, and 1 nonunion. Four patients had recurrent squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). The factors of greatest concern to patients were appearance, swallowing, and chewing. Average overall QOL was good to very good, and very good compared to preoperative.

Conclusion: Despite a 37% complication rate, a multidisciplinary team approach with adequate debridement, resection, and reconstruction can greatly improve QOL.

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Basal Cell / radiotherapy
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / radiotherapy*
  • Female
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mandibular Diseases / surgery*
  • Oropharyngeal Neoplasms / radiotherapy
  • Osteoradionecrosis / surgery*
  • Patient Care Team
  • Plastic Surgery Procedures
  • Quality of Life*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Squamous Cell Carcinoma of Head and Neck
  • Surgical Flaps
  • Tongue Neoplasms / radiotherapy