Objectives: The temporomandibular joint is occasionally encountered in extirpative surgery of the head and neck. It presents a difficult management issue. Little has been reported on functional outcomes after resection and reconstruction of the temporomandibular joint. Design: A retrospective analysis consisting of chart reviews and phone interviews was performed on 17 patients who underwent fibular free flap reconstruction of the temporomandibular joint from 1993 to 1998. Results: Mean follow-up in surviving patients (10) was 41.3 months. Mean age of the group was 62; male- to-female ratio was 11:6. Average hospital stay was 11.6 days. Four patients had no radiation therapy, 2 had preoperative and 11 had postoperative treatment. Five patients had one osteotomy, seven had two, one had three, and one had four. Ten patients could chew, one could not, and none were recorded for the remaining. Diet consisted of regular food for two patients, soft food for seven, full liquids for four, and tube feeds for four. Cosmesis was judged as excellent by eight patients, acceptable by two, and unacceptable by two. Five patients did not describe cosmesis. Most patients stated that bony contour was excellent, but that the soft tissue defect was noticeable. Speech was judged as intelligible by seven and moderately understandable by one. Nine patients did not describe speech. Two patients had postoperative displacement of the fibular head out of the fossa. Conclusion: Primary reconstruction of the temporomandibular joint with microvascular fibular flaps is a viable and effective means of restoring function. The majority of patients are able to resume oral feeds, obtain excellent or pleasing cosmetic results, and maintain intelligible speech.
ASJC Scopus subject areas