Neck dissection after chemoradiotherapy: Timing and complications

Laura A. Goguen, Claudia I. Chapuy, Yi Li, Sihai D. Zhao, Donald J. Annino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: To determine the incidence of postchemoradiotherapy (post-CRT) neck dissection (ND) complications; to ascertain whether timing (<12 vs ≥12 weeks) from CRT to ND or other factors are associated with increased complications; and to determine whether ND timing influences disease control or survival. Design: Ten-year retrospective analysis. Setting: Tertiary care center. Patients: One hundred five patients with head and neck cancer undergoing ND after CRT. Main Outcome Measures: Complications and survival variables compared between groups undergoing ND less than 12 weeks (less-than-12-weeks ND group) and 12 weeks or more (12-weeks-or-more ND group) after CRT. Results: Sixty-seven NDs were performed less than 12 weeks and 38 were performed 12 weeks or more after CRT. Patient characteristics, treatment, and ND pathology results were comparable between the 2 ND groups. The incidence of complications between the less-than-12-weeks and the 12-weeks-or-more ND groups included major wound complications in 8 of 67 (11.9%) vs 1 of 38 (2.6%; P = .15), minor wound complications in 11 of 67 (16.4%) vs 4 of 38 (10.5%; P = .56), airway complications in 7 of 67 (10.4%) vs 2 of 38 (5.3%; P = .48), and systemic complications in 9 of 67 (13.4%) vs 2 of 38 (5.3%; P = .32). The number of patients with at least 1 complication was significantly smaller in the 12-weeks-or-more ND group (P = .04). Multivariate analysis showed that radical ND was significantly associated with an increased number of complications, and higher radiation doses approached significance (P = .05). Induction chemotherapy was associated with fewer wound complications (P = .01). There were no significant differences in overall survival (P = .82), progression-free survival (P = .77), or regional relapse (P = .54) between groups. Positive ND findings were associated with diminished progression-free and overall survival. Conclusion: These findings indicate that ND can be safely performed 12 weeks or more after CRT without adversely affecting surgical complications or survival variables.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1071-1077
Number of pages7
JournalArchives of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2010
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Otorhinolaryngology


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