Closure of palatal fistula with buccal fat pad flap

A K Ashtiani, M J Fatemi, A H Pooli, M Habibi
International Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery 2011, 40 (3): 250-4
Palatal fistula as a complication of palatal surgery is difficult to manage due to the presence of fibrotic and scarred tissue and the absence of local virgin tissue. Recurrence rates are high. To investigate the efficacy of repairing small and medium sized palatal fistulas using the buccal fat pad (BFP), 20 patients (aged 2.5-19 years) with palatal fistula (10-20mm) underwent closure surgery using a pedicled BFP flap. The nasal layer was closed by a local mucosal flap (turn down flap) and the pedicled BFP flap was used for oral lining. Full epithelialization of the BFP layer was observed within 4 weeks in all patients. A 2mm defect in the anterior part of the previous fistula location remained in one case, which spontaneously healed after 2 months; all others closed successfully. Mild pain and cheek swelling occurred in 10 patients, which disappeared within 5 days with no surgical intervention. This study suggests the pedicled BFP flap is a simple and relatively secure method for palatal fistula management. It is recommended for fistulas less than 20mm in length located in the posterior two-thirds of the palate.

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