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Prophylaxis Against Frey's Syndrome In Parotid Surgery

P. Bonanno, D. Palaia, M. Rosenberg, P. Casson
Published 2000 · Medicine

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&NA; In 1990 the authors reported their preliminary study of the prevention of Frey's syndrome in 55 patients utilizing a superficial musculoaponeurotic system (SMAS) flap in parotid gland surgery. During the past 10 years, numerous studies have supported their original thesis that interposition of living tissue between the resected gland bed and the skin could prevent the development of this complication. The authors have expanded their own patient population and now consider this a definitive study on the prevention of Frey's syndrome. A total of 160 patients are presented with a follow‐up period of 5 to 22 years. All patients underwent subtotal or total parotidectomy performed by one of the authors. A history was acquired and testing for Frey's syndrome (Minor's starch iodine test) was performed. As a result of this approach, and in spite of the intensive search for it, no cases of Frey's syndrome were encountered. The hoped‐for secondary benefit of preventing the postparotidectomy retromandibular depression was somewhat less satisfactory, although most patients remain satisfied with their appearance. The debilitating symptoms in Frey's syndrome, which is reported to have an incidence of 5% to 50% in the typical parotidectomy patient, can be avoided with thoughtful preoperative planning. The authors favor an aesthetic incision followed by the development of an SMAS flap. The parotidectomy is then performed using the surgeon's preferred technique. The SMAS flap is then placed into the bed of the resected parotid gland. This institutes a protective tissue barrier guarding against the aberrant anastomotic communication between the postganglionic secretomotor fibers intended for the parotid gland, and the now adjacent sweat glands. Their patient population is large enough to provide significant evidence that Frey's syndrome can be prevented, compared with a meta‐analysis of parotid patients in multiple other studies in the literature. Assuming the patient's history and pathology does not preclude its use, the SMAS flap should be considered the standard of care for preventing Frey's syndrome in the postparotidectomy patient. If the SMAS flap is not available, a temporoparietal fascial flap has proved to be a good alternative.

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