Analysis of the relations between the shape of the reconstructed tongue and postoperative functions after subtotal or total glossectomy

Yoshihiro Kimata, Minoru Sakuraba, Shigeyuki Hishinuma, Satoshi Ebihara, Ryuichi Hayashi, Takahiro Asakage, Takashi Nakatsuka, Kiyonori Harii

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

169 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives/Hypothesis: For reconstruction after subtotal or total glossectomy, both preserving the larynx and maintaining postoperative swallowing and speech functions can greatly improve quality of life; however, postoperative functional results are often unstable. Our experiences suggest that insufficient flap volume in the oral area and postoperative prolapse of the preserved larynx affect postoperative function. The objective was to investigate the relations of the shape of the reconstructed tongue to postoperative swallowing and speech functions. Study Design: The shape of the reconstructed tongue was classified on the basis of magnetic resonance and intraoral inspection as protuberant, semi-protuberant, flat, or depressed. Speech intelligibility was evaluated, and body weight, which might affect the shape of the transferred flap, was measured before and after surgery. Methods: Thirty patients who had undergone subtotal or total glossectomy and subsequent reconstruction were reviewed. Results: We found that speech intelligibility (P <.001), food (P <.01), and deglutition (P <.003) scores were significantly lower in patients with flat or depressed tongues than in patients with semi-protuberant or protuberant tongues. Weight loss after surgery was significantly greater in patients with depressed tongues than in other patients (P <.013). Our results indicate that postoperative function is related to the shape of the reconstructed tongue. Conclusions: We suggest that 1) wider and thicker flaps, such as rectus abdominis musculocutaneous flaps, be used; 2) flaps be designed to be approximately 30% wider than the defect; 3) laryngeal suspension be used to prevent prolapse of the transferred flap; and 4) careful general management and sufficient nutrition are important in the early postoperative period.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)905-909
Number of pages5
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 1 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Postoperative functional analysis
  • Reconstruction after subtotal or total glossectomy
  • Shape of reconstructed tongue

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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