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imageBackground
Defects after total pharyngolaryngectomy for hypopharyngeal cancer often require reconstruction via free tissue transfer. Recently, anterolateral thigh (ALT) flap has become the gold standard in many centers because of its advantages with respect to versatility, minimal donor-site morbidity, good speech quality, and relatively low fistula and anastomotic leakage rates. Moreover, ALT allows 2 surgical teams to work simultaneously. However, the height of the parallelogram in the ALT design for neoesophagus reconstruction is usually set at a minimum of 9.4 cm (circumference, 2πr) for smooth food passage. Because this height exceeds 8 cm, the donor site may not be closed primarily, which highly depends on the patient’s body habitus and the skin tone or quality and requires other methods, such as local flap or skin graft for wound closure, which subsequently increase operating time and donor-site complication rate.
Objectives
Thus, we aimed to construct a simple and modified ALT design that will not only include the advantages described earlier but also provide adequate donor-site primary closure without jeopardizing complication rates.
Methods
Ten patients with hypopharyngeal cancer underwent reconstructive surgery using our modified ALT design after total pharyngolaryngectomy between 2010 and 2017. Our modified ALT design converts this “classical” shape into a parallelogram so that the height of the modified design is always less than 8 cm, thus allowing for easy primary closure of the wound.
Results
The donor-site defects of all 10 patients were closed primarily. No donor-site complications and partial or total flap loss were observed. One patient experienced persistent wound infection with dehiscence, for which debridement was performed. The stricture and fistula rates were 10% (n = 1) and 20% (n = 2), respectively. The mean follow-up time is approximately 1 year.
Conclusions
Minimizing donor-site morbidity is an important goal in reconstructive surgery. Our modified ALT flap design is simple, enabling easy primary closure of the donor-site defect, with improved results for the patient and operators. Furthermore, this design is also suitable for ALT flaps with widths larger than 8 cm.

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