Educational Objective: Assess outcomes of pediatric facial reconstruction with fibula free flaps. Objectives: Free flap reconstruction of complex maxillofacial defects in pediatric patients is rare. Post-operative complications, donor site morbidity, impact on craniofacial growth, and oro-dental rehabilitation are unknown. Our study assesses the outcomes of pediatric maxillofacial reconstruction with composite fibula free flaps. Study Design: Retrospective chart review. Methods: Multi-institutional retrospective chart review from 2000 to 2020 on pediatric patients undergoing maxillomandibular reconstruction with fibula free flaps. Results: Eighty-seven patients underwent 89 surgeries; 5 maxillary and 84 mandibular defects. Median age: 12 years. Defects were acquired following resection of sarcoma/carcinoma 44% or benign tumors 50%. 73% of cases had immediate free flap reconstruction. Closing osteotomies were reported in 74%; 1 in 40%, 2 in 27%, and more than 2 in 6.7%. Hardware was used in 98% and removed in 25%. 9.2% demonstrated long-term hardware exposure, greater than 3 months following reconstruction. Short-term complications: wound infection 6.7%, flap salvage/failure 2.2%, fistula 1.1%, and compromised craniofacial growth: 23%. Two patients developed trismus. Long-term fibula donor site complications: hypertrophic scarring: 3.4%, dysesthesia: 1.1%, and long-term gait abnormality: 1.1%. Dental rehabilitation was performed in 33%. Post-operative speech outcomes showed 94% with fully intelligible speech. Conclusion: Pediatric maxillary and mandible defects repaired with fibula free flaps demonstrated complication rates comparable to the adult free flap population. Long-term follow-up did not demonstrate adverse outcomes for craniofacial growth. Hardware for flap retention was utilized and remained in place with minimal exposure. Post-operative gait abnormality is rare. Level of Evidence: 3 Laryngoscope, 133:302–306, 2023.
- fibula free flap
- microvascular reconstruction
- pediatric facial reconstruction
ASJC Scopus subject areas