The aim of this prospective study was to assess the impact of intraoral soft-tissue reconstruction on the development of quality of life after ablative surgery for oral cancer. A total of 107 patients were enrolled in the study during the period between 1997 and 1999. Quality of life was assessed by using the quality-of-life core questionnaire and the head and neck module of the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer. The questionnaires were distributed to the patients preoperatively on the day of hospital admission and 3 months, 6 months, and 12 months postoperatively. A total of 53 patients filled in all questionnaires and were available for complete longitudinal analysis. The changes in the scores and the impact of defect size, location, and anatomy, the extent of mandibular resection, and the mode of soft-tissue reconstruction were tested longitudinally for statistical significance by using repeated-measures analysis of variance procedures. Of all parameters tested, the mode of soft-tissue reconstruction had the most profound impact on the development of quality of life after ablative surgery for oral cancer in that it was associated with statistically significant changes in the most domains or items associated with postoperative quality of life. In contrast to local flaps, revascularized soft-tissue repair with forearm flaps was associated with an intermittent deterioration of physical and functional scores but was followed by improvement until the end of the first year, and it even surpassed the preoperative baseline level in oral functional and social domains. In large-volume defects, which required repair by myocutaneous grafts, quality of life was not restored to the same extent, and physical, functional, and social domains remained significantly lower.
|Journal||Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery|
|Publication status||Published - 2002|