Torsional strength of the radius after osteofasciocutaneous free flap harvest with and without primary bone plating

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The osteocutaneous radial forearm free flap (OCRFFF) has not gained widespread popularity in mandibular reconstruction, primarily because of concerns about pathologic fracture of the weakened radius. This study examines the effectiveness of plate fixation of the radius bone after harvest of the OCRFFF as o mechanism to minimize donor-site morbidity and increase the usefulness of the OCRFFF. Matched pairs of fresh human cadaveric radius bones were used in this study. Two study groups were designed. The first group was used to define the amount of strength lost after a typical bone graft harvest. The second Group was designed to demonstrate how much torsional strength was regained by the application of an orthopedic reconstruction plate. Statistically significant results were obtained for both groups. In Group 1, the strength of the cut bones compared with that of the unaltered bones was significantly decreased by 82% (P = 0.016). In Group 2, the cut bones reinforced with a plate were 75% stronger (P = 0.002) than the bones that were only cut. Although the radius bone is significantly weakened by the harvest of a graft, much of this strength can be regained with plate fixation of the radius.

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Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery