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Postoperative Complications of Paramedian Forehead Flap Reconstruction.

Importance: Paramedian forehead flaps are commonly used to reconstruct facial defects caused by skin cancers. Data are lacking on the complications from this procedure, postoperative outcomes, and association of cancer diagnosis with rate of deep venous thrombosis (DVT).

Objectives: The primary objective was to determine complication rates after paramedian forehead flap reconstruction for defects resulting from resection of facial cancers; and the secondary objective was to determine patient factors and complications that are associated with readmission.

Design, Setting, and Participants: Retrospective cohort study of patients who underwent paramedian forehead flap reconstruction for skin cancer reconstruction from January 1, 2007, through December 31, 2013. Data analysis took place between October 1, 2017, and June 1, 2018.

Main Outcomes and Measures: Complication rates including DVT, emergency department visits, and hospital readmissions.

Results: A total of 2175 patient were included in this study; mean (SD) age, 70.3 (13.4) years; 1153 (53.5%) were men. Postoperative DVT occurred in 10 or fewer patients (≤0.5%); postoperative bleeding in 30 (1.4%), and postoperative infection in 63 (2.9%). Most patients went home on the day of surgery (89.6%; n = 1949), while 10.4% stayed one or more days in the hospital (n = 226). Overnight admission was associated with tobacco use (odds ratio [OR], 1.65; 95% CI, 1.11-2.44), hypothyroidism (OR, 1.93; 95% CI, 1.10-3.39), hypertension (OR, 1.82; 95% CI, 1.29-2.57), ear cartilage graft (OR, 2.20; 95% CI, 1.51-3.21), and adjacent tissue transfer (OR, 1.88; 95% CI, 1.33-2.67). Risk factors strongly associated with immediate return to the emergency department or readmission within 48 hours of surgery included postoperative bleeding (OR, 13.05; 95% CI, 4.24-40.16), neurologic disorder (OR, 4.11; 95% CI, 1.12-15.09), and alcohol use (OR, 7.70; 95% CI, 1.55-38.21).

Conclusions and Relevance: In this study, the most common complication of paramedian forehead flap reconstruction was infection. Risk factors for readmission included development of postoperative bleeding, having a neurologic disorder, and alcohol use. Deep venous thrombosis was a rare complication. Because bleeding is a more common complication in this patient population, discretion should be used when deciding to administer anticoagulation medication to low- to medium-risk patients prior to surgery.

Level of Evidence: NA.

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