Advanced lesions of the oropharynx are known to have increased survival with surgical excision combined with radiation therapy. Traditional surgery involves either a mandibular resection or, more recently, a mandibular sparing approach primarily through a lip-splitting incision. At our institution posterior oropharyngeal lesions are approached via a combined intraoral and transhyoid technique. Nineteen sequential procedures using this approach were compared with a similar number of previous, stage-matched controls in an attempt to obtain valid comparable information. No significant difference between the groups was noted with respect to surgical margins. A significant difference was, however, seen with respect to the need for flap closure with none required in the transhyoid group and five in the mandibulotomy group. Furthermore, a statistical difference was observed with respect to the presence of significant complications in favor of the transhyoid group. These results indicate that similar cure rates can be achieved with lower morbidity by use of a transhyoid pharyngotomy approach to tumors of the oropharynx.
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