The submental flap for head and neck reconstruction: Comparison of outcomes to the radial forearm free flap

Urjeet A. Patel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Objectives: To compare intraoperative, postoperative, functional, and oncologic outcomes of the submental island pedicled flap (SIPF) to the radial forearm free flap (RFFF). Study Design: Retrospective review; comparison with statistical analysis. Methods: A retrospective review was performed on patients at two tertiary care academic hospitals by a single surgeon. Consecutive patients who underwent cancer resection and reconstruction with SIPF or RFFF between 2004 and 2016 were included. Cancer staging, surgical procedure, hospital stay, complications, and functional and oncologic results were extracted. Results: The study included 146 patients (57 SIPF; 89 RFFF). The most prevalent primary site was oral cavity, with a minority in the oropharynx, paranasal sinuses, or external face. Mean area of the SIPF was smaller at 28 cm2 compared to 48 cm2 for the RFFF. Operative time for SIPF was shorter at 6.5 hours compared to 9 hours for RFFF. Hospital stay was 8.0 days for SIPF patients and 10.0 days for RFFF patients. Multivariate analysis confirmed these differences were significant. Functional outcomes of speech quality and gastrostomy feeding tube dependence were similar between the SIPF and RFFF groups. There was no difference in local recurrence rate for SIPF (16%) and RFFF (19%), and there was no difference in overall recurrence. Kaplan-Meier curves showed no difference in recurrence between both groups, and multivariate logistic regression demonstrated no association between SIPF and local recurrence. Conclusion: Operative time and hospital stay are both significantly reduced with the SIPF. Functional and oncologic results are similar with no contraindication to the SIPF. The SIPF is a good first-line choice for head and neck reconstruction. Level of Evidence: 3 Laryngoscope, 130:S1–S10, 2020.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S1-S10
Issue numberS2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2020


  • Head and neck reconstruction
  • free flap reconstruction
  • radial forearm free flap
  • submental flap

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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