Resection of malignancies of the upper face and skull base may result in complex bone and soft tissue defects. To better define the optimal management of these defects, we conducted a retrospective review of 75 consecutive patients who underwent closure of 76 craniofacial defects after malignant tumor excision from 1966 to 1990. Wound complications requiring further surgery occurred in 30% of the defects (23 of 76). Wound complications at anterior, temporal, or combined sites were correlated with each method of reconstruction (scalp flap or split thickness skin graft, pedicled myocutaneous flap, and free flap). The presence of a large combined defect involving both frontal and temporal areas was the only significant risk factor for development of a wound complication requiring secondary surgery. These data suggest that anterior or temporal craniofacial defects may be closed with either scalp flaps and split thickness skin grafts or pedicled myocutaneous flaps with reasonable wound complication rates of 16% to 22%. Large combined defects have high wound complication rates (90%) when local tissue is used; therefore, other methods of closure such as free tissue transfer should be strongly considered in these patients.
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