The Efficacy of Resorbable Plates in Head and Neck Reconstruction



Objective/Hypothesis The advent of malleable macroporous resorbable plates has allowed the surgeon a greater range of reconstructive options and has decreased the morbidity of conventional plating procedures. Completely malleable after warming to 55°C, resorbable plates can readily conform to most morphologic appearances of fractures or defects and provide rigid fixation when cooled. The plating systems used in head and neck reconstruction are described.

Study Design Nine patients were selected for reconstruction using a resorbable plating system. The resorbable system was tested under a variety of clinical situations including frontal sinus fractures (three patients), midface fractures (two patients), mandibular defects (two patients), and laryngeal fractures (two patients).

Methods Each case was evaluated for rigidity of fixation, and ease of plate contouring and application. Furthermore, the postoperative functional and cosmetic results and complications were contrasted between the resorbable plating systems and each surgeon's vast experience with traditional plating systems.

Results The resorbable plating system was found to be as effective as traditional plating systems with respect to rigidity of fixation, functional results, and complications. In addition, the resorbable system was far easier to contour and, consequently, to apply, while producing higher cosmetic satisfaction after plate resorption than traditional plating.

Conclusions Based on our experience, resorbable plates appear to be safe, easy to contour and apply, as well as effective for a wide range of head and neck reconstructive applications. In addition, the shortcomings of permanently retained plates such as plate migration, bone growth restriction, and imaging artifact are avoided.