Background: Free-flap reconstruction via a retroauricular approach (RRA) after robot-assisted neck dissection (RAND) could have cosmetic benefits. This study aimed to compare the surgical outcomes of free-flap reconstruction via a RRA and via a transcervical approach in head and neck cancer. Methods: For this matched case–control study, 50 patients with head and neck cancer requiring free-flap reconstruction were divided into two groups: those reconstructed via a RRA group and those reconstructed via a transcervical approach (RTA group). The total operation time for free-flap reconstruction, the flap survival rate, the length of the hospital stay, the complications, and the scar satisfaction scores were compared between the two groups. Results: The RRA group comprised 25 patients, and the RTA group had 25 patients. The mean operation time for reconstruction was 288 ± 77 min in the RRA group and 250 ± 98 min in the RTA group (p = 0.132). Flap failure occurred for two patients in the RRA group (8 %) and for one patient in the RTA group (4 %) (p = 1.000). The mean hospital stay was 21 ± 18 days in the RRA group and 23 ± 14 days in the RTA group (p = 0.669). The complications were comparable between the two groups. However, the overall scar satisfaction was significantly higher in the RRA group (p = 0.000). Conclusions: For patients with head and neck cancer, RRA has better cosmetic outcomes than RTA. The RRA approach could be used for select patients who undergo RAND and prefer to avoid a visible anterior neck scar.
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