New surgery helps rebuild face and jaw after tumour removal
Washington: In a new report, researchers have revealed that using a novel surgical approach, it is possible to rebuild a functional lower jaw and mouth and preserve a patient’s ability to eat and speak after removing an invasive facial tumour.
The new case study not only documents a successful surgical technique to create a fully functional lower jaw, but also reports the rare occurrence of a bone cancer known as osteosarcoma that spreads from the patient’s right femur to his jaw bone.
Most commonly, osteosarcoma is found in the long bones of the leg and does not spread to other parts of the body.
“The bone tumour involved nearly all of his jaw bone, lower lip, chin, neck skin, tongue and both cheeks, approximately the lower third of the face and upper half of his neck,” Tamer A. Ghanem, senior author of the study from Henry Ford Hospital said.
“We had to think outside the box to not only safely remove the tumour, but to allow for optimum functional outcome,” Ghanem said.
The case is centered on a 21-year-old African American male with a history of osteosarcoma, the eighth most common childhood cancer. It affects 5 million patients under the age 20 and about 500 adults ages 15-30 each year in the U.S.
The patient’s osteosarcoma spread to his jaw bone about three years after the initial diagnosis. The facial tumour soon grew to nearly 10 lbs. of tissue and bone, making it difficult for him to speak and eat. The patient required a feeding tube.
Only three months after the surgery, the patient was able to talk and eat without assistance.
Prior to coming to Henry Ford Hospital, the patient underwent multiple treatments including mandible resection, radiation, chemotherapy and cryosurgery at another institution. All treatments were unsuccessful.
Dr. Ghanem and his colleague Francis Hall, M.D., devised a plan that would not only surgically remove the tumour and oral tongue, but rebuild the lower third of the patient``s face – all during a 20-hour surgical procedure.
The surgeons performed a near total mandibulectomy (surgical removal of the bone from the lower jaw), and removal of the tongue, mucous membrane from the inside of both cheeks and lower lip.
Dr. Ghanem performed the complex reconstruction of the face and jaw using dual microvascular free flaps from the fibula and shoulder areas.
“The reconstruction involved bone and skin transplanted from the patient``s left leg, and a tissue complex from his shoulder blade area with its feeding blood supply compromised of multiple islands of skin and muscles to reconstruct all of the tissues,” Ghanem said.
The findings of the study will be presented at the poster session for the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery annual meeting in Washington, D.C.