Donor site morbidity of the fasciocutaneous radial forearm flap: What does the patient really bother?

Christien A. De Witt, Remco De Bree*, Irma M. Verdonck-De Leeuw, Jasper J. Quak, C. R. Leemans

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The objective of this study was the evaluation of donor site morbidity in head and neck cancer patients after reconstruction using a free vascularized radial forearm flap with emphasis on subjective complaints. Fifty patients who underwent at least 6 months before a reconstruction using a free vascularized radial forearm flap were asked to fill out two questionnaires regarding cosmetics and sensibility and forearm disabilities. Furthermore, a function test including movement extensions (flexion-extension, ulnar-radial deviation and pronation-supination), strength (pinch and grip) and temperature (digiti I and V) of the donor and non-donor site were measured and compared. Thirty-five percent of the patients reported no complaints regarding cosmetics and sensibility and 75% mentioned no forearm disabilities. There was no difference in movement extensions, temperature and grip strength between donor and non-donor sites. The difference in pinch strength appeared to be significant (p < 0.001). The total score of the questionnaire on forearm disabilities correlated significantly with extension, pronation and grip strength of the donor arm. Donor site morbidity of the radial forearm flap measured by objective functional tests was limited but subjective self-ratings revealed complaints regarding cosmestics and sensibility and to a lesser extent regarding forearm disability. The present data may be used for solid patient counselling.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)929-934
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean Archives of Oto-Rhino-Laryngology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2007

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