Reconstructive considerations in head and neck surgical oncology: United Kingdom National Multidisciplinary Guidelines

J Laryngol Otol. 2016 May;130(S2):S191-S197. doi: 10.1017/S0022215116000621.


This is the official guideline endorsed by the specialty associations involved in the care of head and neck cancer patients in the UK. The reconstructive needs following ablative surgery for head and neck cancer are unique and require close attention to both form and function. The vast experience accrued with microvascular reconstructive surgery has meant a significant expansion in the options available. This paper discusses the options for reconstruction available following ablative surgery for head and neck cancer and offers recommendations for reconstruction in the various settings. Recommendations • Microsurgical free flap reconstruction should be the primary reconstructive option for most defects of the head and neck that need tissue transfer. (R) • Free flaps should be offered as first choice of reconstruction for all patients needing circumferential pharyngoesophageal reconstruction. (R) • Free flap reconstruction should be offered for patients with class III or higher defects of the maxilla. (R) • Composite free tissue transfer should be offered as first choice to all patients needing mandibular reconstruction. (R) • Patients undergoing salvage total laryngectomy should be offered vascularised flap reconstruction to reduce pharyngocutaneous fistula rates. (R).

Publication types

  • Practice Guideline

MeSH terms

  • Free Tissue Flaps
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Interdisciplinary Communication
  • Laryngectomy / adverse effects
  • Larynx / surgery
  • Mandibular Reconstruction / standards
  • Pharynx / surgery
  • Plastic Surgery Procedures / standards*
  • Salvage Therapy / standards
  • Surgical Oncology / standards
  • United Kingdom