Morbidity after midline mandibulotomy and radiation therapy

Marc D. Eisen, Gregory S. Weinstein, Ara Chalian, Mitchell Machtay, Kenneth Kent, Lawrence R. Coia, Randal S. Weber

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59 Scopus citations


Purpose: To assess the morbidity of mandibulotomy in patients treated for neoplasms of the oropharynx and oral cavity, and to determine if postoperative radiation therapy to the mandibulotomy site carries an increased risk of complications. Patients and Methods: The medical charts of 30 patients treated between 1992 and 1996 undergoing midline mandibulotomy for tumors of the oral cavity (7 patients) and oropharynx (23 patients) were retrospectively reviewed. Three patients presented with recurrent disease, 1 of whom was previously irradiated. Twenty-five patients received postoperative radiation after mandibulotomy to a median dose of 60 Gy to the primary tumor bed, whereas 5 patients were treated with surgery alone. The patients were separated into those whose mandibulotomy site was within the radiation treatment field (n = 9), and those whose site was shielded (n = 10). Median follow-up was 27.8 months (range 5-81 months). End points included significant pain involving the mandibulotomy site, trismus, malocclusion, wound infection, osteoradionecrosis, and time to oral intake. Results: There were no postoperative deaths. Minor wound infection or breakdown occurred in 4/30 patients (13%). All of these resolved with local care and parenteral antibiotics. More serious complications involving the mandibulotomy occurred in 2 patients (7%). One patient had chronic wound drainage at the mandibular osteotomy site, which healed after plate removal. Another patient developed osteoradionecrosis. No patient developed trismus or malocclusion. With a median follow-up of 27.8 months, 4 patients have recurred locally. The complication rate was 11% for patients whose mandibulotomy site was irradiated, and 30% for those whose site was shielded. Conclusion: Mandibulotomy can be safely performed in patients who are likely to require postoperative external radiation. Copyright (C) 2000 by W.B. Saunders Company.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)312-317
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Medicine and Surgery
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2000

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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