BACKGROUND: Sequential free flap reconstruction in patient with head and neck cancer can provide reliable and effective wound coverage. Only a few studies have reported on the outcome and complications analysis but without consensus on the recipient vessels and flap chosen. Herein, we presented the outcome and analysed the risk factors for complications in sequential free flap reconstruction. PATIENTS AND METHODS: Patients who had sequential free tissue transfers due to cancer recurrence, second primary cancer, or secondary correction of the soft tissue contractures and volume deficits were all included. Variables extracted included demographics, comorbidities, free flap characteristics, infection, dehiscence and flap necrosis rates. RESULTS: In total, 40 patients with 92 free flaps were analyzed; 42 initial and 50 sequential free flaps. The most common recipient vessels for sequential flap were contralateral superficial thyroid vessels (68%). The most common flap for both initial and sequential free flap was anterolateral thigh flap (64.3 and 62%). The success rate of sequential free flap was 92.0 compared to 92.9% for initial free flap, which showed no significant difference. Female was independently associated with delayed wound healing with an odds ratio of 90.91 (95% confidence interval 0.001-0.17, P = 0.001), as well as diabetes with an odds ratio of 31.14 (95% confidence interval 2.60-373.19, P = 0.007). Sequential free flap was not a risk factor for any complication. CONCLUSIONS: Sequential free flap is a reliable method for head and neck surgery without more complication rate comparing to initial free flap reconstruction. More attentions should be paid on patients with preferential risk for certain complications.
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