Minimally Invasive Cervical Access in Head and Neck Microvascular Surgery

J Oral Maxillofac Surg. 2022 Jun;80(6):1127-1133. doi: 10.1016/j.joms.2022.03.007. Epub 2022 Mar 16.


Free flap reconstruction often involves extensive cervical access for microvascular anastomosis where management of pathology would otherwise not require cervical approach. This study reports a minimally invasive alternative technique. Investigators designed a prospective case series with subjects who underwent microvascular reconstruction between 2015 and 2020, using a small 2 cm incision for vessel access, just below the mandible where facial artery/vein cross. Study variables were subject demographic characteristics, type and location of pathology/defect, and free flap types. Outcomes examined were flap success, postoperative facial weakness using House-Brackmann scale, and esthetic result with Visual Analog Scale. Descriptive statistics computed for study variables. Study sample was 43 subjects, mean age of 48 years with 20 males and 23 females. There were a total of 43 flaps with 100% success using our technique. One subject had House-Brackmann level 2 postoperative facial weakness that resolved within 1 week. Mean Visual Analog Scale score for scar satisfaction was 9.23/10, standard deviation 0.83. This minimally invasive approach represents an alternative to extensive open cervical access for microvascular anastomosis, offering minimal morbidity and excellent esthetic results.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cicatrix / etiology
  • Esthetics, Dental
  • Female
  • Free Tissue Flaps* / blood supply
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms* / surgery
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Minimally Invasive Surgical Procedures
  • Neck / surgery
  • Plastic Surgery Procedures* / methods