Reconstruction of hemiglossectomy defects with the lateral arm fasciocutaneous flap

Document Type



Introduction: Partial tongue reconstruction requires a thin pliable flap to restore volume and mobility. The lateral arm flap is well suited to this as it is a thin fasciocutaneous flap that has consistent vascular anatomy, reliable perfusion, short harvest time and low donor site morbidity. The authors report our experience with use of this flap for reconstruction of hemi-glossectomy defects.
Methods: This is a retrospective cohort of patients who underwent reconstruction of hemi-glossectomy and floor of mouth defects with a lateral arm flap, at Aga Khan University Hospital, Karachi (Pakistan) from November 2016 to January 2020. Flaps were harvested from the nondominant upper extremity. Data were collected for patient demographics, size of defect, size of flap, recipient vessels, postoperative complications and functional outcome.
Results: Over a 3-year period, 8 hemi-tongue and extended hemi-tongue, and floor of mouth reconstructions were performed with a lateral arm fasciocutaneous flap. A standard lateral arm flap was harvested in 3 patients and an extended lateral arm flap in 5 patients. Mean flap size was 65.75 cm2 (48-76 cm2). The recipient artery in all cases was the superior thyroid artery. The recipient veins were the common facial vein in 1 patient, the internal jugular in 3 patients, the external jugular in 1 patient and both external and internal jugular in 3 patients. Donor sites were closed primarily. There were no total or partial flap losses. All patients were able to resume an oral diet (unrestricted in 1, soft in 4, pureed in 2 patients). Postoperative speech was intelligible to patients' family in 4 patients and to strangers in 3 patients. One patient succumbed to progressive disease in the early postoperative period. Orocutaneous fistulas developed in 3 patients, all of which healed with nonoperative management.
Conclusions: The lateral arm fasciocutaneous flap is well suited for reconstruction of hemiglossectomy and floor of mouth defect. It has the advantages of straightforward harvest, thin and pliable soft tissue, and low donor site morbidity.


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Publication (Name of Journal)

Journal of Craniofacial Surgery