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Lumbar Fusion for Active Duty Service Members Performed at an Overseas Military Treatment Facility: A 2-Year Retrospective Analysis Research Article

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CONCLUSIONS: Low back pain (LBP) and lumbar radiculopathy may ultimately require treatment with instrumented lumbar fusion and decompression. In this series, we demonstrate that overseas duty with treatment at a community-sized MTF does not preclude this therapy and should be considered among treatment options.
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Mil Med. 2022 Jul 4:usac193. doi: 10.1093/milmed/usac193. Online ahead of print.

ABSTRACT

INTRODUCTION: Among U.S. Military active duty service members, low back pain (LBP) and lumbar radiculopathy are common causes of disability and effect job performance and readiness and can lead to medical separation from the military. Among surgical therapies, lumbar fusion is an option in select cases; however, elective lumbar fusion performed while serving overseas has not been studied extensively.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: A retrospective analysis of a prospectively collected surgical database from an overseas military treatment facility (MTF) over a 2-year period (2019-2021) was queried. Patient and procedural data were collected to include single and 2-level lumbar fusion, indications for surgery, military rank, age, tobacco use, pre- and postoperative Visual Analog Scale (VAS) scores for pain, and the presence of radiographic fusion after surgery. Chi-square and Student’s t-test analyses were performed to identify variables associated with return to full duty.

RESULTS: A total of 21 patients underwent lumbar fusion with an average follow-up of 303.2 days (110-832 days). Eleven (52.4%) were able to return to full duty without restriction. Four (19%) patients ultimately required medical separation from the military, and six (28.6%) remained in a partial or limited duty status. Three (14.3%) patients required tour curtailment and return from overseas duty prematurely. Older age (40.2 ± 5.9 years), rank of E7 or greater, and reduction in VAS of 50% postoperatively were all associated with return to full unrestricted active duty. Three surgical complications occurred; all patients were able to recover overseas within a 3-month postoperative period.

CONCLUSIONS: Low back pain (LBP) and lumbar radiculopathy may ultimately require treatment with instrumented lumbar fusion and decompression. In this series, we demonstrate that overseas duty with treatment at a community-sized MTF does not preclude this therapy and should be considered among treatment options.

PMID:35788861 | DOI:10.1093/milmed/usac193

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Lumbar Fusion for Active Duty Service Members Performed at an Overseas Military Treatment Facility: A 2-Year Retrospective Analysis

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Mil Med. 2022 Jul 4:usac193. doi: 10.1093/milmed/usac193. Online ahead of print.ABSTRACTINTRODUCTION: Among U.S. Military active duty service members, low back pain (LBP) and lumbar radiculopathy are common causes of disability and effect job performance and readiness and can lead to medical separation from the military. Among surgical therapies, lumbar fusion is an option in select…

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