A morphometric analysis of the suitability of the transverse cervical artery as a recipient artery in head and neck free flap microvascular reconstruction
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Gold standard recipient arteries in head and neck free flap microvascular reconstruction are currently branches of the external carotid. However, these arteries can be compromised by neck dissection or radiotherapy, resulting in ‘vessel-depleted neck’ and ‘frozen neck’ respectively. In such cases, the transverse cervical artery (TCA) may be a suitable recipient artery.
The origin, course and diameter of the TCA were determined in 46 sides of neck from 23 cadavers. The distances from the origin of the TCA to the angle of the mandible, floor of the mouth and mandibular symphysis were measured to determine the pedicle length required for free flap anastomosis.
The TCA was present bilaterally in all subjects investigated and its course across the posterior triangle of the neck was constant between individuals. The mean distances from the origin of the TCA to the angle of mandible, floor of mouth and mandibular symphysis were 10.0, 9.2 and 12.6 cm, respectively. There were no significant differences in these distances between the left and right sides of the neck (p > 0.05 for all comparisons). The distances from the TCA origin to the angle of the mandible and floor of the mouth were significantly longer in males than in females (p = 0.004) and correlated directly with the greater height of males compared to females (p = 0.0004). The mean diameter of the TCA measured 2 cm from its origin was 2.2 mm.
The TCA is a suitable and reliable recipient artery for free flap microvascular reconstruction, when branches of the external carotid artery are unavailable.
KeywordsTransverse cervical artery Head and neck reconstruction Microvascular surgery Recipient artery
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare no competing financial interest.
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