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Total Glossectomy With Free Flap Reconstruction: Twenty-Year Experience at a Tertiary Medical Center

Albert Y Han, Edward C Kuan, Jon Mallen-St Clair, Karam W Badran, Miguel F Palma Diaz, Keith E Blackwell, Maie A St John
Laryngoscope 2019, 129 (5): 1087-1092

OBJECTIVES/HYPOTHESIS: To characterize the demographics, clinicopathologic characteristics, and treatment and reconstructive outcomes of patients who underwent total glossectomy STUDY DESIGN: Retrospective chart review at an academic tertiary-care medical center.

METHODS: All patients who had undergone total glossectomy (as an individual procedure or as part of a more extensive resection) between January 1, 1995 and December 31, 2014 were included in the analysis. Patient characteristics and clinical outcomes were reviewed.

RESULTS: Forty-eight patients underwent total glossectomy for oral tongue and base of tongue cancer. The mean age of the patients was 56 (range, 29-92 years). History of tobacco and heavy alcohol use was found in 76% and 11% of patients, respectively. The majority of patients had advanced cancer (91.7% at stage IV), and 60.4% had salvage therapy for recurrent disease. T4 disease comprised 81% of patients. Sixty percent had clinical or radiographic evidence of nodal metastasis. Reconstruction of the defect was performed with free flaps from the rectus abdominus (40%), fibula (25%), anterolateral thigh (23%), and other donor tissues. One- and 5-year survival rates were 42% and 26%, with locoregional and distant recurrence reported at 36% and 25%, respectively.

CONCLUSIONS: Total glossectomy for oncologic control is most commonly performed in patients who have stage IV cancers. Despite high reconstructive success rates, the likelihood of locoregional and distance recurrence was high. Most patients can communicate intelligibly and achieve decannulation, but swallowing outcomes remain guarded, especially considering previous irradiation and resection of the base of tongue.

LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: 4 Laryngoscope, 129:1087-1092, 2019.

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