Head and neck surgery global outreach: Ethics, planning, and impact

Adam Luginbuhl, Charissa N. Kahue, Matthew Stewart, Joseph M. Curry, Donald Weed, Chad Zender, James Netterville, Mark Zafereo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Head and neck surgical oncology and reconstruction are uniquely suited to address burdens of disease in underserved areas. Since these efforts are not well known in our specialty, we sought to understand global outreach throughout our society of surgeons. Methods: Survey distributed to members of the American Head and Neck Surgery involved in international humanitarian head and neck surgical outreach trips. Results: Thirty surgeons reported an average of seven trips to over 70 destinations. Identification of candidates, finances, on-site patient care, complications, long-term post-surgical care, ethics, and educational goals are reported. We report a success rate of 90% on 125 free flaps performed in these settings. Conclusions: The effort to answer the call for alleviating the global burden of surgical disease is strong within our specialty. There is a shared focus on humanitarian effort and teaching. Ethics of high resource surgeries such as free flap reconstruction remains controversial.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1780-1787
Number of pages8
JournalHead and Neck
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2021


  • free flaps
  • mission
  • outreach
  • surgery abroad
  • surgical mission

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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