Thoracodorsal artery scapular tip autogenous transplant: Vascularized bone with a long pedicle and flexible soft tissue

Douglas B. Chepeha, Samir S. Khariwala, Eric J.P. Chanowski, Justin W. Zumsteg, Kelly M. Malloy, Jeffrey S. Moyer, Mark E. Prince, Assuntina G. Sacco, Julia S.J. Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


Objective: To demonstrate that the 3 reconstructive advantages of the thoracodorsal artery scapular tip transplant (Tdast), a long pedicle, independently mobile tissue components, and the 3-dimensional nature of the scapular tip,will improve the quality and success of complex reconstructions by avoiding vein grafting, preventing the need for 2 separate transplants, and facilitating bony inset. Design: Prospective case series. Setting: Tertiary care academic medical center. Patients: Twenty-one patients (male to female ratio, 16:5; mean age, 52 years) underwent reconstruction of the upper, middle, and lower face from 2001 through 2006. Indications for reconstruction were tumor ablation in 11 patients, secondary reconstruction in 4 patients, osteoradionecrosis in 4, and posttraumatic reconstruction in 2. Seventeen patients underwent radiation. Interventions: All patients underwent harvest of an autogenous transplant of scapular tip bone and latissimus dorsi soft tissue based on the thoracodorsal artery. The mean bone length was 5.2 cm (range, 2.5-9.0 cm), and the mean cutaneous surface area was 68 cm2 (range, 20-250 cm2). Main Outcome Measures: Reduction of vein grafting, avoidance of 2 transplants, use of the triangular shape of the scapular tip in reconstruction, complications, and shoulder function. Results: The success rate of transplantation was 100%. The use of this transplant avoided vein grafting in 16 patients and the need for 2 separate transplants in 11 patients, and the 3-dimensional nature of the scapular tip facilitated inset in 13 patients. In 14 patients, more than 1 of these reconstructive advantages was achieved. In 6 patients, all 3 were accomplished. Eleven patients experienced a complication. The major complication rate was 33%, and the minor complication rate was 33%. The mean Constant-Murley test of shoulder function score was 87 of 100 (range, 74-100). Conclusions: The Tdast is an excellent choice for reconstruction in the head and neck as an alternative to procedures requiring vein grafting and multiple free tissue transplants, or in which the 3-dimensional contour of the scapular tip aids in reconstruction. The complication rate should be assessed in the context of the risk factors of the patient population and the outcome with respect to stable employment, increasing body mass index, and maintenance of shoulder function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)958-964
Number of pages7
JournalArchives of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2010


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