Functional considerations in oral cavity reconstruction

Patrik Pipkorn, Kelsey Rosenquist, Joseph Zenga

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Purpose of review The treatment of oral cavity cancer may impair speech and swallowing function. Optimizing posttreatment function may lead to significant improvement of quality of life. Recent findings Although oncologic control remains the main goal of treatment for oral cavity cancer, posttreatment function for surviving patients has over the last decades been recognized as an important secondary outcome. Reconstruction of oral cavity defects range from primary closure to advanced microvascular reconstruction, including multiple tissue types. Free flap reconstruction has greatly enhanced the ability to tailor transferred tissue to specific defects. In this review, we describe recent findings in reconstruction of tongue defects, including data from perforator flaps. We also summarize recent evidence regarding reinnervated flaps. Summary When vascularized tissue is needed, it remains unclear how the reconstructive choice impacts postoperative outcome, although in many situations it appears to be dominated by the donor site morbidity rather than the reconstructive technique. Despite numerous case series, the functional impact of motor and sensory reinnervation in vascularized tissue remains unknown. Although perforator flaps have emerged as a promising flap option, with favorable donor site morbidity, their ultimate impact on functional outcomes remains unclear, whereas the success rate appears to be lower than traditional flaps.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)326-333
Number of pages8
JournalCurrent Opinion in Otolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2018


  • Functional outcomes
  • Oral cavity reconstruction
  • Perforator flaps
  • Reinnervation
  • Tongue reconstruction


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