Transfusion in Head and Neck Cancer Patients Undergoing Pedicled Flap Reconstruction

Nicholas B. Abt, Sidharth V. Puram, Sumi Sinha, Rosh K.V. Sethi, Neerav Goyal, Kevin S. Emerick, Derrick T. Lin, Daniel G. Deschler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Objective: Blood product utilization is monitored to prevent unnecessary transfusions. Head-and-neck pedicled flap reconstruction transfusion-related outcomes were assessed. Methods: One hundred and thirty-six pedicled flap patients were reviewed: 64 supraclavicular artery island flaps (SCAIF), 57 pectoralis major (PM) flaps, and 15 submental (SM) flaps. Outcome parameters included flap-related complications, medical complications, length of stay (LOS), and flap survival. Multivariable logistic regression analyses were performed. Multivariable logistic regression analyses were performed to adjust for relevant pre- and perioperative factors. Results: Of all head-and-neck pedicled flap patients included in our analyses (n = 136), 40 (29.4%) received blood transfusions. The average pretransfusion hematocrit (Hct) was 24.3% ± 0.5%, with 2.65 ± 0.33 units transfused and a posttransfusion Hct increase of 5.0% ± 0.6%. Transfusion rates differed with PM (47.4%), SCAIF (17.2%), and SM (13.3%) flaps (P < 0.005). Patients undergoing PM reconstruction trended toward higher transfusion requirements (PM 2.89 ± 0.47 units, SC 2.18 ± 0.28 units, and SM 2.00 ± 0.0 units), with transfusion occurring later in the postoperative course (4.9 ± 1.3 days vs. 2.4 ± 0.1 days for all other flaps; P = 0.08). Infection, dehiscence, fistula, or medical complications were not different. Transfusion thresholds of Hct < 21 versus Hct < 27 exhibited no difference in LOS, flap-survival, or medical/flap-related complications. Conclusion: Transfusion is not associated with surgical or medical morbidity following head and neck pedicled flap reconstruction. There were no differences in outcomes between transfusion triggers of Hct < 21 versus Hct < 27, suggesting that a more conservative transfusion trigger may not precipitate adverse patient complications. Our data recapitulate findings in free flap patients and warrant further investigation of transfusion practices in head and neck flap reconstruction. Level of Evidence: 4. Laryngoscope, 128:E409–E415, 2018.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E409-E415
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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