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Purpose: To describe the use of the cephalic vein as a recipient vessel for venous outflow in head and neck reconstruction. The cephalic vein is used as a vessel in cases where there is a paucity of veins in the neck. This may be due to previous surgery, previous radiation therapy, or advanced cancer. The cephalic vein may also be used to salvage a failing free flap.
Methods: It is a retrospective review of 230 free flaps that had been used in head and neck reconstruction performed from July 2014 to July 2018 by a single surgeon.
Results: There were 6 patients in whom the cephalic vein was used as a recipient vessel. The cephalic vein was used in 2 cases where a tumor was involved with the internal jugular vein, in 1 case where a previous neck dissection had been done, in 1 case where internal jugular vein had iatrogenic damage, and in 2 cases a salvage procedure was done. In all cases, the cephalic vein was rotated above the clavicle. The cephalic vein easily reached the free flap vein and had a good caliber. There were no failures in any of the patients.
Conclusion: The cephalic vein is a good option for venous anastomoses in patients in whom there is a paucity of recipient vessels in the neck.


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