Expert Point of View: Brian Burkey, MD, MEd

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“This study pointed out what most head and neck/reconstructive surgeons know: Complex free flap reconstructions are associated with a relatively high readmission rate,” commented session co-moderator Brian Burkey, MD, MEd, Vice Chairman and Section Head of Head & Neck Surgery and Oncology, Head and Neck Institute, Cleveland Clinic. “The reasons for this are multifactorial, and so improvements require attention to many areas of a patient’s medical and social situation prior to and after discharge.”

“The study is based on a respected, large, risk-stratified database from the NSQIP efforts,” he added. However, he cautioned, the investigators noted that some of the risk factors identified, such as bone free flaps, may have emerged as significant mainly because of small numbers.

The moral for Dr. Burkey is: “These patients are relatively sick patients who undergo major surgery for cancer and require great medical and social support to achieve optimal outcomes.” ■

Disclosure: Dr. Burkey reported no potential conflicts of interest.

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