Background. Postoperative hemorrhage from the internal jugular vein after a modified or selective neck dissection is an infrequent, yet potentially life-threatening, complication. Despite the increasing frequency of modified or selective neck dissections, this complication has not been previously highlighted in the literature. Setting. Tertiary referral academic center. Material and Methods. The records of six patients who experienced this complication were reviewed and analyzed for risk factors that might predict its occurrence. Results. Common risk factors included postoperative pharyngeal fistula formation, significant tobacco history, and poor nutritional status. A more complete circumferential dissection of the vein low in the neck in the presence of hypopharyngeal fistula may place it at a higher risk for rupture. Conclusions. Patients who have a complete circumferential dissection of the internal jugular vein low in the neck and go on to have fistulas develop may be more prone to internal jugular vein rupture.
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