Effect of submental flap reconstruction versus obturator rehabilitation after maxillectomy on quality of life: a randomized clinical trial

Published:December 29, 2020DOI:


      The surgical removal of a maxillary tumour will result in an oronasal communication, which can negatively affect the patient’s life and daily functions. Following maxillectomy, the defect can be treated with a prosthetic obturator or microvascular flap. However, the gold standard technique remains controversial. The aim of this study was to evaluate and compare quality of life (QoL) outcomes of submental island flap versus maxillary obturator reconstruction after partial maxillectomy. Sixty patients indicated for maxillectomy were allocated randomly to two equal-sized groups. Control group patients underwent reconstruction with a surgical obturator, while intervention group patients underwent submental island flap reconstruction. Patient QoL was evaluated at the 6-month follow-up using the University of Washington Quality of Life Questionnaire. Statistically significant differences in QoL were found between the two groups. Chewing (P = 0.034), swallowing (P < 0.001), speech (P = 0.009), taste (P = 0.04), mood (P = 0.01), and anxiety (P = 0.003) domains showed a statistically significant improvement in the submental group compared to the obturator group. However, the obturator group showed a greater improvement in appearance (P < 0.001). The masticatory function scores in the obturator group were significantly higher after obturator rehabilitation (P < 0.001). In conclusion, this study found that submental flap reconstruction provided better function and QoL than the obturator. This reconstruction was associated with less pain and better pronouncing of words, chewing, swallowing food, and psychosocial adjustment.

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