Hypopharyngeal defect reconstruction, following extended total laryngectomy, using a myocutaneous sternocleidomastoid flap


Hypopharyngeal cancer represents approximately 7% of all head and neck malignancies, occurring more frequently in men (male / female ratio 3:1) with a maximum incidence in the 6th and 7th decades (1, 2).
The lack of specific symptoms causes late presentation with advanced T-stage disease (T3-T4) which restricts surgical options to total laryngectomy with partial pharyngectomy or total laryngectomy with circular pharyngectomy, associated, in most cases, with bilateral neck dissection (1, 3). Submucosal extension of the tumor is what compels the surgeon to practice an extended resection in order to meet the criteria of oncological resection (4, 5). In order to achieve a primary suture of the pharynx is imperative that the width of the remaining mucosa is at least 2.5-3 cm (2, 6). If this goal is not achieved then the resectional stage is mandatory followed by a reconstructive one, in order to prevent pharyngocutaneous fistula occurrence, pharyngeal stenosis or poor vocal rehabilitation. For lateral pharyngeal wall defects, reconstruction can be performed using regional flaps (myocutaneous pectoralis major flap, lateral island trapezius, deltopectoral flap, latissimus myocutaneous flap, submental island flap) or free flaps (radial forearm fasciocutaneous free flap, lateral arm free flap) (1,2,3,5,6). If a circumferential resection has been performed the optimal reconstruction is the one that re-creates a lumen that can allow normal deglutition so, jejunal free flaps, ileocolic free flaps, radial arm free flaps, anterolateral tigh flap, peroneal flap, gastro-omental free flap, gastric transposition and many other methods were successfully used (3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9). The reconstructive procedure performed by us used a pediculated, myocutaneous sternocleidomastoid flap harvested from the same side as the lesion and it was addressed to a lateral hypopharyngeal wall defect.