Clinical assessment of early mobilization after head and neck free flap reconstruction: A retrospective case–control study

Published:August 23, 2022DOI:



      We examined whether there were any differences in perioperative complications between patients who mobilized on the first postoperative day (early mobilization) and those who mobilized on the second postoperative day after head and neck reconstruction using free tissue transfer.


      In the control group (n = 74), patients were instructed to mobilize on the second postoperative day (April 2019–March 2020), while in the early mobilization group (n = 101), patients were instructed to mobilize on the first postoperative day (April 2020–March 2021). Mobilization was defined as maintaining a standing position or walking. Clinical data were collected from medical records and retrospectively analyzed.


      There were no significant differences in clinical background factors, with the exception of intraoperative blood loss volume. The proportion of patients who successfully mobilized on the day of instruction was significantly lower in the early mobilization group (89.1% vs. 98.7%). One case of total flap loss and four cases of partial flap loss occurred in the control group, and three cases of partial flap loss occurred in the early mobilization group. There was no significant difference in partial or total flap loss between the two groups. There were no significant differences in other perioperative complications (wound infection, postoperative bleeding, and delirium) between the two groups. The median postoperative hospital stay was 24.5 and 25.0 days in the control and early mobilization groups, respectively.


      In this study, early mobilization on the first day after head and neck free flap reconstruction was safe and feasible.


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