Postoperative Urinary Complications in Head and Neck Free Flap Reconstructive Surgery

Kimberly Chan, Allison Keane, Sandeep Pradhan, Tonya King, Annie Moroco, Neerav Goyal, Karen Y. Choi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: The purpose of this study is to evaluate the postoperative urinary complications and the optimal timing of foley catheter removal in patients who underwent free flap reconstructive surgery for head and neck pathology. Methods: A retrospective case-control study of head and neck patients who underwent free flap reconstructive surgery at a single institution between January 2009 and December 2021 was conducted. Patient risk factors for postoperative urinary retention (POUR) were analyzed. Fisher Exact and Wilcoxon Rank Sum tests were used to evaluate rates of foley replacement, straight catheterization, and catheter-associated urinary tract infection (CAUTI) and associated risk factors. Results: Two hundred and eleven patients were included in this study. Older age, lower BMI, lower intraoperative fluid volumes, and need for straight catheterization were statistically significant for POUR requiring foley replacement. Shorter total (P =.04) and postoperative (P =.01) foley duration showed statistical significance for POUR requiring straight catheterization. About 60% of patients who had straight catheterization required a foley replacement (P <.001). Only one patient (0.5%) developed a urinary tract infection (UTI). Conclusion: Foley catheter duration impacts the risk of POUR requiring straight catheterization and subsequently, foley replacement. Optimal timing for foley catheter removal in the postoperative period remains to be elucidated. Removal of catheters between 21 and 48 hours after surgery may decrease the risk of POUR without increasing the rate of CAUTI in patients with head and neck pathology undergoing free flap reconstructive surgery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)284-291
Number of pages8
JournalAnnals of Otology, Rhinology and Laryngology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Otorhinolaryngology

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