5 years ago

Microsurgical Reconstruction Following Oncologic Resection in Pediatric Patients: A 15-Year Experience

Jun Liu, Edward I. Chang, Michael E. Kupferman, Margaret J. Starnes-Roubaud, Matthew M. Hanasono



Free tissue transfer in the pediatric population is a challenging endeavor, even for experienced microsurgeons. Some surgeons argue these cases can be limited by vessel size and spasticity and should be undertaken only when absolutely necessary. We present a 15-year experience examining outcomes of free tissue transfer in pediatric oncologic patients.


All free flaps performed at a single institution in pediatric patients (age range 3–17) between January 2000 and December 2014 were reviewed.


Overall, 102 patients (mean age 12.1 ± 4.0 years) were identified who underwent 109 free flaps. The most common flaps were the fibula free flap (46%) and the anterolateral thigh free flap (27%). 81 cases (74%) had malignant disease with 70 cases (64%) involving the head and neck region. 21 cases (19%) had preoperative radiation and 58 cases (53%) had preoperative chemotherapy. 5 cases had total flap loss (4.6%) and 17 cases (15.6%) had immediate post-operative complications, with wound infection (4.6%) being most common. 17 cases (15.6%) had long-term complications with delayed or non-union (4.6%) being most common. Survival rate was 91.7% at 1 year and 78.9% at 5 years.


Free tissue transfer is a reliable and appropriate choice in pediatric patients requiring soft tissue or bony reconstruction. Even in pediatric oncologic patients with preoperative chemotherapy or radiation, flap survival and outcomes are comparable to the adult population. Pediatric free tissue transfer should not be avoided but instead considered the gold standard for patients with complex defects, just as it is in the adult population.

Publisher URL: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1245/s10434-017-6061-6

DOI: 10.1245/s10434-017-6061-6

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