JOURNAL ARTICLE
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Total pharyngolaryngectomy and voice reconstruction with ileocolon free flap: functional outcome and quality of life.

Total pharyngolaryngectomy (PL) reconstruction with an ileocolon free flap not only restores swallowing but also provides potential for speech. We report our surgical technique, functional outcome and quality of life (QoL) of 17 (15 males and two females) patients who underwent total PL/voice reconstruction with an ileocolon free flap between 2004 and 2009. The patients were retrospectively reviewed and swallowing, speech and QoL evaluated. Speech intelligibility was assessed using Hirose and Chen scoring systems, in addition to sound spectrogram analysis. QoL was evaluated using the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer Core Questionnaire (EORTC QLQ-C30) in conjunction with the disease-specific Head & Neck Cancer Module (QLQ-H&N35). The mean age of patients was 49 (range 35-69) years and the mean follow-up period was 22 (range 6-72) months. There was one partial flap failure and another flap was successfully salvaged. Swallowing function was achieved by 16 (94%) patients at 4 weeks, whilst 12 (71%) demonstrated moderate-to-excellent speech intelligibility. There were no cases of aspiration pneumonia. QLQ-C30 global QoL and functional subscales indicated patients had average-to-good functioning. Comparison of QLQ-H&N35 scores with EORTC reference values indicated our patients had greater difficulty with social contact, mouth opening and weight gain. Total PL/voice reconstruction with the ileocolon free flap is a viable option in selected patients, who desire autologous voice reconstruction. A low complication rate and reasonable QoL support this reconstructive method.

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