Postoperative complications after major head and neck surgery with free flap repair. 

P.Stathopoulos, J. McMahon, C. Wales, C. McIver, J Devine.

Southern General Hospital of Glasgow, UK


This study aims to give a better understanding of the prevalence, patterns, and determinants of postoperative complications, to evaluate the Clavien–Dindo classification of surgical complications, and to set out a protocol to improve postoperative recovery. Over a period of 27 months we studied 192 patients who had had major head and neck operations with free flaps. Data on complications were gathered prospectively along with patients’ details, comorbidities, factors indicative of the magnitude of the surgical insult, and variations in perioperative care.<br /> Complications were classified according to the Clavien–Dindo system. Outcomes analysed comprised any complication, major complications(Clavien–Dindo III and above), wound complications, and pulmonary complications. A total of 64% of patients had complications, and in around one third they were serious; wound and pulmonary complications were the most common. Factors significantly associated with complications reflected an interaction between coexisting conditions of the patient at operation and the magnitude of the surgery. Perioperative interventions to ensure preoperative optimisation of patients, and to lessen the systemic inflammatory response that results from operation offer the best prospect of reducing the burden of surgical complications. A protocol to improve recovery after operation would be appropriate.The Clavien–Dindo classification of surgical complications is useful in this group.