Effectiveness of computer-assisted virtual planning, cutting guides and pre-engineered plates on outcomes in mandible fibular free flap reconstructions: a systematic review protocol

JBI Database System Rev Implement Rep. 2019 Oct;17(10):2136-2151. doi: 10.11124/JBISRIR-2017-003875.


Objective: The objective of this review is to synthesize the best available evidence on the outcomes of mandibular fibular free flap (MFFF) reconstructions using computer-assisted techniques versus traditional freehand techniques.

Introduction: Fibular free flaps are the most commonly used free flap for mandible reconstruction and are considered best practice for mandible reconstructions following resection of head and neck cancers. There are several reported advantages of computer-assisted MFFF reconstructions, including increased accuracy, decreased operation time, decreased ischemia time, decreased overall cost and improved patient outcomes. It is important to assess the advantages and potential harms of these techniques in a systematic review.

Inclusion criteria: Eligible studies will consider patients of all ages undergoing MFFF reconstruction. Studies will compare computer-assisted techniques to traditional freehand techniques for the primary outcomes of flap failure, patient-reported outcomes and bony resection margin status. Studies published in English from 2008 will be included. Experimental, quasi-experimental, prospective and retrospective cohort, case-control and analytical cross-sectional studies will be considered.

Methods: MEDLINE, Embase, Scopus and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials will be searched. Gray literature sources will include Google Scholar and the World Health Organization International Clinical Trials Registry Platform. Two independent reviewers will screen titles and abstracts, assess full-text papers against the inclusion criteria, evaluate methodological quality using standardized critical appraisal instruments and extract data using a customized form. If possible, data will be pooled for statistical meta-analysis, and a Grading of Recommendations, Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) Summary of Findings will be presented.

MeSH terms

  • Computer-Aided Design*
  • Fibula / surgery*
  • Free Tissue Flaps*
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / surgery
  • Humans
  • Mandibular Reconstruction / methods*
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology
  • Research Design
  • Systematic Reviews as Topic
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed