Distal end circular stricture is a major complication following circumferential pharyngoesophageal reconstruction with tubed fasciocutaneous free flaps. To reduce the stricture rates, we have incorporated spatulation with interdigitation at the distal anastomosis site. This study investigated whether this procedure could decrease the stricture rate.
There were 51 patients who underwent tubed fasciocutaneous free flap reconstruction following total laryngo-pharyngo-esophagectomy between July 2002 and August 2008. The interdigitation technique was applied in 10 patients; the 41 remaining patients underwent simple circumferential anastomosis. This modification technique consists of incising both distal skin tube and cervical esophagus into three triangular parts, respectively, and interdigitation by interposition of these flaps. Of the 10 patients with this procedure, five patients were reconstructed with an anterolateral thigh flap and five with a radial forearm flap. All 10 patients received postoperative radiotherapy. The mean follow-up period was 30.2 months.
Of the 41 patients without any modification, 12 patients (29.3%) developed a stricture; however, in our series of 10 patients undergoing this modification, there was no stricture formation except one (10.0%) who had been reconstructed with a radial forearm flap. The nine remaining patients all achieved a modified or unrestricted full oral diet without complications. Esophagography revealed a wide and patent anastomosis without stricture.
This interdigitation technique could prevent circular contracture at the neopharyngoesophageal segment in reconstruction with tubed fasciocutaneous free flaps.