Outcomes of Head and Neck Free Tissue Transfer in Renal Failure Patients

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Objective: To assess if there is increased risk of free flap failure in renal failure patients undergoing head and neck reconstruction. We seek to primarily assess free flap outcomes based on stages of chronic kidney disease (CKD) and secondarily determine increased risk for postoperative complications. Methods: Retrospective chart review was performed at five tertiary care centers. Patients were identified that had undergone microvascular free flap reconstruction of the head and neck with diagnosis of renal failure, classified as Stage 3 CKD or higher. Demographic data was collected. Outcomes in the postoperative period were examined. Results: Seventy-three patients met inclusion criteria. The average patient age was 69 years with a male predominance (n = 48). The majority of patients had CKD Stage 3 (n = 52). Overall flap failure rate was 12.33% (n = 9, CKD stage 3 = 7.69%, CKD stage 4 = 30%, CKD stage 5 = 18%). There was an increased risk of flap failure on multivariate analysis for CKD stage 4/5 patients when compared to CKD 3 patients (p = 0.0095). When compared to matched controls, there was an increased risk of flap failure in CKD patients (p = 0.01) as well as an increased risk of overall complications (p < 0.0001). Conclusions: Patients with CKD undergoing head and neck reconstruction are at a higher risk of flap failure and overall complications. When comparing CKD stages there may be increased risk of flap failure in later stages of CKD compared to CKD 3. Appropriate patient counseling is recommended pre-operatively in this patient population with consideration for regional flaps in the appropriate patient. Level of Evidence: III Laryngoscope, 2023.

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