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To determine whether the fibula free flap is the most frequently used osteocutaneous flap for mandible reconstruction, and whether it provides quality of life, depression and anxiety advantages.
A systematic review of the public Medline database was conducted. Thirteen patients who underwent mandibular reconstruction at our hospital centre completed questionnaires to evaluate quality of life, depression and anxiety outcomes.
The most frequently used free flaps are those of the fibula (n = 982), radial forearm (n = 201), iliac crest (n = 113), subscapular system (n = 50) and rib–serratus (n = 7). In our patient population, there was a trend towards a better quality of life in those with a fibula free flap. However, patients in this group were significantly younger than patients with other flap types (p = 0.025). Patients with a subscapular system free flap were more depressed (p = 0.031); however, they had large through-and-through defects.
The flap used most frequently in the literature is the fibula free flap. Comparative quality of life data are lacking, and homogeneous populations should be used to reach significant conclusions.
The pathophysiology of snoring and obstructive sleep apnoea is still unclear. Two theories are proposed. The first is the obstructive theory, which postulates palatopharyngeal muscle hypertrophy leading to airway narrowing; there is no neural role. The second is the neurogenic theory, which postulates neural degeneration due to vibratory stretch trauma, leading to muscle atrophy and collapse. As identification of nerve fibres in the uvula and palate is difficult and time-consuming, all previous studies aiming to differentiate between these two theories have been based on indirect observation of the muscles, rather than direct study of the nerves.
We conducted a prospective study to directly observe and study nerve fibres in uvular specimens from 10 cases of obstructive sleep apnoea, compared with specimens from 10 cases of simple snoring, using transmission electron microscopy. Five autopsy cases served as controls.
Obstructive sleep apnoea was associated with definite degenerative changes in myelinated and unmyelinated nerve endings. These degenerative changes were present to a lesser degree and in a smaller proportion of cases of simple snoring.
The events postulated by the neurogenic theory of obstructive sleep apnoea appear to play an important role in the pathophysiology of snoring and obstructive sleep apnoea.
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