Introduction: Reconstruction of the head and neck has challenges due to its three-dimensional structure, tissue complexity, extent of the defect, and clinical scenarios. Advances in microsurgical techniques make free tissue transfer reconstruction a popular choice to address these issues. Anterolateral thigh perforator flap (ALT) is a workhorse flap for head and neck reconstruction due to its long and reliable pedicle, large volume, versatility in composition, and low donor morbidity. However, diabetes mellitus may contribute to developing postoperative complications, such as vascular occlusions and thrombosis, that endanger free flap survival and are associated with poor wound healing. This case report demonstrates the successful utilization of this approach in the closure of extensive neck defects in a diabetic patient.
Case Presentation: A 56-year-old male was referred with a 21 cm x 15 cm defect following an odontogenic submandibular abscess. The flaw was extended from the intrabuccal, neck, and one-third of the upper anterior thorax, involving the skin, subcutaneous tissue, and exposed mandibular bone. The patient had previously uncontrolled diabetes mellitus. Surgical debridement, antibiotics, insulin for glucose control, and wound bed preparation were performed. A free fasciocutaneous ALT flap was used for defect closure. The flap was raised template-based, sized 24 × 15 cm, with a pedicle from the descending branch of a lateral circumflex femoral vessel. End-to-end anastomosis of one artery and vein of the superior thyroid vessel was performed. The donor site was closed using a split-thickness skin graft. The surgery and recovery were uneventful. Flap refinement was carried out one month later. The patient underwent a three-month follow-up period, expressing satisfaction with the aesthetic and functional outcomes.
Conclusions: Anterolateral thigh perforator flap (ALT) is a workhorse flap for reconstruction of head and neck reconstruction due to its long and reliable pedicle, large tissue volume with various compositions, and low donor morbidity. The LD flap presents as an alternative for free tissue transfer. Regional pedicled flaps can be chosen where microsurgery is not available or suitable. However, vascular compromise and flap failure remain a challenge. Identifying and managing risk factors such as diabetes mellitus are needed to minimize significant complications.