The role of hematoma formation in the development of complications after major head and neck surgery is surveyed retrospectively. An incidence of 4.2% was encountered. In all cases, the hematoma was identified within 12 hours postoperatively. Prompt surgical clot evacuation and reinstitution of drainage did not adversely effect the patient's subsequent course. Failure to adequately drain the hematoma resulted in increased wound dehiscence, major infection, and fistula. When properly treated, postoperative hematoma formation offers only the risks attendant with a second anesthesia; no subsequent related morbidity need be anticipated.
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