Objective Describe the elevation and insetting of the pedicled latissimus dorsi musculocutaneous flap. Review history of this flap’s evolution and personal series of 68 consecutive cases since 1984. Study Design Retrospective review. Setting Tertiary, referral, academic center. Methods Retrospective review of 68 consecutive patient records in which the pedicled latissimus dorsi musculocutaneous flap was used to reconstruct head and neck defects. Overall flap survival and postoperative complications were used as outcome measures. Results Thirty-one women and 37 men underwent reconstruction with the latissimus dorsi pedicled flap between 1984 to 1998. The mean age was 61 years. Sixty-three cases followed postoncologic ablation and 5 cases addressed traumatic tissue loss. Forty-three patients had prior radiotherapy and 26 patients had undergone prior reconstructive surgery. The overall flap survival rate was 67/68 (98.5%), with one case of complete flap necrosis. Six cases of partial flap necrosis occurred. There were 8 other minor complications including fistula, wound dehiscence, hematoma and cerebrospinal fluid accumulation. Fifty-six donor sites were closed primarily resulting in 2 dehiscences and 17 seromatas. Three of 12 skin grafts to the donor sites were compromised. Conclusion The excellent flap survival rate (98.5%) is the result of proper patient selection and adherence to three technical fundamentals: skin paddle design, pedicle dissection, and pedicle stabilization. The minimal donor site morbidity also demonstrated in this series supports the continued use of the latissimus dorsi pedicled flap for reconstruction of head and neck defects.
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