Sarcopenia and microvascular free flap reconstruction

Joy Chen, Steven K. Dennis, Marianne Abouyared

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


PURPOSE OF REVIEW: This article reviews the recent literature regarding the impact of sarcopenia on microvascular free flap reconstruction outcomes. RECENT FINDINGS: Malnutrition, and consequent muscle loss, is a prevalent issue among head and neck cancer patients. However, diagnosis remains challenging due to a paucity of reliable objective measures. Traditional markers, such as albumin, have been used in the past to assess nutritional status, but cancer-related inflammation limits their predictive value. Recently, developments in the diagnosis of sarcopenia through the novel use of computed tomography (CT) cross-sectional muscle mass indices to evaluate body composition have proven effective and accessible. SUMMARY: Literature shows compelling evidence that sarcopenia is associated with higher rates of surgical complications that delay recovery and increase mortality. The use of CT imaging to quantify muscle loss offers an objective way to evaluate nutritional status, which is predictive of postoperative rates of complications. Research on ways to optimize muscle mass prior to surgery is limited, however, immunonutrition is emerging as a promising intervention that can attenuate sarcopenia-related inflammation to improve outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)419-423
Number of pages5
JournalCurrent opinion in otolaryngology & head and neck surgery
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Otorhinolaryngology


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