Use of the radial forearm microvascular free-flap graft for cranial base reconstruction

Marc S. Schwartz, James I. Cohen, Toby Meltzer, Michael J. Wheatley, Sean O. Mcmenomey, Michael A. Horgan, Jordi X. Kellogg, Johnny B. Delashaw

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Object. Reconstruction of the cranial base after resection of complex lesions requires creation of both a vascularized barrier to cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leakage and tailored filling of operative defects. The authors describe the use of radial forearm microvascular free-flap grafts to reconstruct skull base lesions, to fill small tissue defects, and to provide an excellent barrier against CSF leakage. Methods. Ten patients underwent 11 skull base procedures including placement of microvascular free-flap grafts harvested from the forearm and featuring the radial artery and its accompanying venae comitantes. Operations included six craniofacial, three lateral skull base, and two transoral procedures for various diseases. Excellent results were obtained, with no persistent CSF leaks, no flap failures, and no operative infections. One temporary CSF leak was easily repaired with flap repositioning, and at one flap donor site minor wound breakdown was observed. One patient underwent a second procedure for tumor recurrence and CSF leakage at a site distant from the original operation. Conclusions. Microvascular free tissue transfer reconstruction of skull base defects by using the radial forearm flap provides a safe, reliable, low- morbidity method for reconstructing the skull base and is ideally suited to 'low-volume' defects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)651-655
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of neurosurgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Microvascular free-flap graft
  • Radial artery
  • Reconstructive surgery
  • Skull base

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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