JOURNAL ARTICLE
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Donor-site morbidity in buccal mucosa urethroplasty: lower lip or inner cheek?

BJU International 2005 September
OBJECTIVE: To evaluate donor-site complications of buccal mucosa urethroplasty and whether there is a difference in morbidity between harvesting the mucosa graft from the inner cheek or the lower lip.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: Twenty-four consecutive patients with recurrent urethral strictures were treated with buccal mucosa urethroplasty in our department between September 2002 and April 2004. In 12 patients the graft was harvested from the lower lip or cheek and lower lip (group 1), and in 12 patients from the cheek (group 2). The mean (range) age of patients was 51 (26-66) years in group 1 and 53 (32-75) years in group 2. The mean (range) graft length was 6.2 (2-16) cm in group 1 and 5.7 (2-13) cm in group 2. All patients were followed up using a mailed questionnaire that asked about pain, numbness, difficulties in mouth opening or ingestion, and satisfaction, monthly for the first 3 months and then every 6 months. The mean (range) follow-up was 12.5 (6-23) months.

RESULTS: There were no bleeding complications or disturbances in wound healing. All of the patients reported numbness in the area of the mental and buccal nerves, and graft-site tenderness after surgery. In group 1, the pain lasted for a mean (range) of 5.9 (0.5-22) months, compared to 1 (0.1-7) months in group 2 (P = 0.022). Perioral numbness lasted for a mean (range) of 10.3 (0.5-23) months in group 1 and 0.85 (0.1-3) months (P = 0.0027) in group 2. There were no statistically significant differences in problems with mouth opening or food intake between the two groups, but the patients in group 1 seemed to be less satisfied (6/12 patients satisfied) than those in group 2 (11/12 patients satisfied).

CONCLUSIONS: Buccal mucosa graft harvesting from the lower lip and the inner cheek are both feasible, but harvesting from the lower lip resulted in a significantly greater long-term morbidity, which resulted in a lower proportion of satisfied patients. This seems to be due to a long-lasting neuropathy of the mental nerve. We therefore have changed our technique entirely from lower lip to inner cheek graft harvesting, whenever possible.

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