Use of allogenic dermis for radial forearm free flap donor site coverage

Mark K. Wax, Catherine P. Winslow, Peter E. Andersen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Objective: The radial forearm free flap has become the method of choice for reconstruction of head and neck defects following oncologic ablation. Harvesting of a radial forearm free flap leaves a donor site defect. This is most commonly closed with a split-thickness skin graft. Morbidity, most commonly owing to a lack of graft take over the tendons, can be quite high. Recently, an acellular matrix (Alloderm®) has been advocated to decrease complications at the radial forearm donor site, as well as obviate taking a split-thickness skin graft from the thigh. Material and Methods: Tertiary referral academic centre. Retrospective chart review of 15 patients. Five patients received allogenic dermis, 10 patients received split-thickness skin grafting to the radial forearm donor site. Results: Patients with allogenic dermis took between 12 and 16 weeks to heal completely. Patients undergoing split-thickness skin graft were completely healed within 4 to 6 weeks. Cosmesis was judged to be marginally better in the allogenic dermis group. Allogenic dermis placement had a greater impact on hand function owing to prolonged healing, whereas patients with split-thickness skin graft required wound care at the thigh for a 2- to 3-week period owing to the harvesting of the skin graft. Conclusions: Allogenic dermis may be a viable alternative to split-thickness skin grafting and radial forearm free flap donor sites. Prolonged healing with subsequent increased health care services use needs to be addressed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)341-345
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Otolaryngology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2002


  • Alloderm®
  • Allogenic dermis
  • Free flap
  • Radial forearm
  • Split-thickness skin graft

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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