Objective: To evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of the transmandibular approach to the posterior area of the maxilla, oropharyngeal region and the hypopharynx in head and neck surgery.
Keywords: block resection, head and neck tumours, mandibulotomy, transmandibular approach
Methods: A series of 42 patients who underwent a lip-split mandibulotomy procedure to access malignant tumours affecting deep areas of the head and neck region between 2008 and 2018 in the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at the Ramón y Cajal University Hospital (Madrid, Spain) were retrospectively reviewed. The diagnosis and operations data of the patients were collected and analysed.
Results: Using the transmandibular approach, 42 patients were operated on to access malignant tumours located in the oropharynx (n = 23, 54.76%) including the posterior third of the tongue, tonsil and soft palate, retromolar trygone (n = 9, 21.43%), floor of the mouth (n = 3, 7.14%), skull base (n = 2, 4.76%), superior maxilla (n = 3, 7.14%) and deep lobe of the parotid gland (n = 2, 4.76%). Primary reconstruction was carried out in all cases. The most used flap reconstruction method was the forearm fasciocutaneous flap in 48.71% of cases, followed by the anterolateral thigh flap in 20.51% of cases. The remaining cases were treated with other methods. The most frequent complication was surgical wound infection.
Conclusion: The transmandibular approach is a good alternative to provide access for the removal of complex tumours affecting the oropharyngeal region. This approach facilitates direct visualisation of the lesion and bleeding control, allowing tumour resection with wide margins and making primary reconstruction easier. Although further progress in the transoral robotic approach could be a good option in selected cases, given the current state of knowledge, the transmandibular approach is a good option to access tumours affecting deep areas of the oral cavity and oropharynx.