JOURNAL ARTICLE
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A new design for free flap reconstruction of the tongue and oropharynx.

Radical resection of tongue and oropharyngeal carcinomas often results in complex defects that are challenging to reconstruct. Furthermore, remaining function should not be disturbed by the reconstruction. We introduce a new flap design and monitored swallowing and speech following reconstruction of complex oral defects. The new design consists of four lobes on a single pedicle. The first reconstructs the tongue, the second the tongue base, the third the oral floor, and the fourth the lateral wall. The records of cases performed between July 2002 and December 2006 were reviewed. Twenty-three patients (17 men and 6 women) with an average age of 60 years underwent immediate reconstruction using a free flap after radical resection of a malignant carcinoma of tongue or oropharynx using a free flap. Postoperative swallowing and speech were rated using a self-report questionnaire. Moreover, the functional outcome in patients with and without a tongue base defect was compared. All free flaps took entirely, and postoperative function was largely satisfactory. Swallowing in patients with and without a tongue base defect was similar, but speech was more impaired in patients who had a tongue base defect. Our new design is effective for reconstructing intraoral defects three-dimensionally. However, further refinement is required to preserve speech.

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