Scalp reconstruction: a 15-year experience

Martin I Newman, Matthew M Hanasono, Joseph J Disa, Peter G Cordeiro, Babak J Mehrara
Annals of Plastic Surgery 2004, 52 (5): 501-6; discussion 506
Scalp reconstruction after ablative surgery can be challenging. A useful reconstructive algorithm is lacking. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the authors' experience and to identify an appropriate reconstructive strategy. This was a retrospective review of all patients treated by the authors' service for scalp defects during a 15-year period. Reconstructive methods, independent factors, and outcomes were analyzed. A total of 73 procedures were performed in 64 patients. Techniques for reconstruction included primary closure, grafts, and local and distal flaps. A correlation between reconstructive technique and complications could not be demonstrated. However, an increased incidence of complications was correlated with a history of radiation, chemotherapy, cerebrospinal fluid leaks, and an anterior location of the ablative defect (P < 0.05). Important tenets for successful management of scalp defects are durable coverage, adequate debridement, preservation of blood supply, and proper wound drainage. Local scalp flaps with skin grafts, and free tissue transfer remain the mainstay of reconstruction in most instances.

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