Long-Term Patient-Reported Outcomes of Radial Forearm Free Flap Donor Site in the Context of Head and Neck Cancer Reconstruction

Head and Neck Cancer

Jani K, et al. Indian J Surg Oncol 2020.


Radial forearm free flap (RAFF) is the workhorse flap for oral cavity reconstruction. In the context of oncological reconstruction with radial forearm flap, the patient-reported outcomes of donor site morbidity amongst Indian patients have not been reported previously. Cultural and racial differences prevent extrapolation of morbidity data from Western literature. We aimed to evaluate subjectively the subjective long-term functional and aesthetic outcomes of the RAFF donor site. Patients who

underwent RAFF reconstruction for intra-oral defects between 2014 and 2016 were included. Two questionnaires (Cosmesis and Sensibility and Forearm Disability) were administered. Fifty-two patients who completed a 2-year follow-up were identified. Thirty-five patients (67%) had complaints regarding the donor site. With regard to cosmesis and sensibility, hand numbness was seen in 21 (40.4%) patients. With regard to forearm disability, a problem in lifting heavy weights was seen in 22 (42.3%) patients. Only three patients in the entire cohort had complaints regarding the cosmesis of the forearm scar. Overall disability score was low (7.83). With regard to donor site morbidity, numbness and difficulty in lifting weights was the most common complaint. There is good acceptance of the donor site and scar with minimum morbidity. These findings are useful for the preoperative counselling of the patients. This is the first Indian study evaluating the long-term subjective outcomes of the radial forearm donor site. We believe the RAFF is still the most preferred flap for oral reconstruction.