Background: Venous thromboembolism (VTE) is a disease process characterized by blood clot formation in the deep veins of the lower extremities, known as deep vein thrombosis. In some, a blood clot may dislodge and travel into the vessels of the lungs causing a pulmonary embolism (PE). The incidence of this disease is increased by factors that 1) cause damage to blood vessels, 2) decrease blood circulation, and 3) increase thickness of the blood.
Head and neck cancer patients who undergo surgical procedures requiring extensive tissue removal and reconstruction are prone to VTE risk factors and appear to have a higher incidence of venous thromboembolism than other surgical patient populations. The incidence of VTE in head and neck cancer patients undergoing cancer resection followed by reconstructive procedures, including microvascular anastomosis, is shown to be as high as 5.8 %. This is in accordance with the investigators’ observations in their own clinical practice of head and neck cancer patients that undergo resection with microvascular reconstruction.
Objectives: The purpose of this study is to compare the incidence of VTE and PE in UIC head and neck cancer patients who 1) did not have a reconstruction procedure following cancer resection and 2) those that did have a reconstruction procedure following cancer resection. We hypothesize that the incidence of VTE will be higher in patients that underwent resection and microvascular free tissue transfer reconstruction than in head and neck cancer patients who did not undergone this type of reconstruction. Further, we hypothesize that the Caprini scores of the patients that developed VTE will be higher than those that did not.