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Revisiting the sternocleidomastoid flap as a reconstructive option in head and neck surgery

  • L F Jones (a1), E M Farrar (a2), D J H Roberts (a1) and J W Moor (a3)



The sternocleidomastoid can be used as a pedicled flap in head and neck reconstruction. It has previously been associated with high complication rates, likely due in part to the variable nature of its blood supply.


To provide clinicians with an up-to-date review of clinical outcomes of sternocleidomastoid flap surgery in head and neck reconstruction, integrated with a review of vascular anatomical studies of the sternocleidomastoid.


A literature search of the Medline and Web of Science databases was conducted. Complications were analysed for each study. The trend in success rates was analysed by date of the study.


Reported complication rates have improved over time. The preservation of two vascular pedicles rather than one may have contributed to improved outcomes.


The sternocleidomastoid flap is a versatile option for patients where prolonged free flap surgery is inappropriate. Modern vascular imaging techniques could optimise pre-operative planning.


Corresponding author

Author for correspondence: Dr Larissa Jones, 109D Dartmouth Road, London NW2 4ES, UK E-mail:


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Dr L Jones takes responsibility for the integrity of the content of the paper



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