Upper limb dysfunction following selective neck dissection: A retrospective questionnaire study




To determine total upper limb function following selective neck dissection over a mean follow-up of 1.6 years.


A retrospective questionnaire study in a tertiary head and neck surgical unit. One hundred forty-eight patients who underwent selective neck dissection for head and neck cancer from January 2000 to December 2005 were invited to participate. The main outcome measure was ipsilateral upper limb dysfunction as measured by the Disability of Arm, Shoulder and Hand (DASH) questionnaire.


Sixty-five patients responded to the invitation to join the study from 148 invited. Despite accessory nerve conserving surgery for all the selective neck dissections studied, 23% reported no upper limb dysfunction, 54% reported mild upper limb dysfunction, 15% reported moderate, and 8% reported a severe dysfunction.


Long-term upper limb dysfunction is common following nerve preserving surgery. The DASH questionnaire is a useful preoperative and postoperative clinical tool for those patients undergoing selective neck dissections. © 2009 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Head Neck, 2009