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Return to flight duty (RTFD) after posterior lumbar spine surgery for symptomatic lumbar disc herniation (LDH) and lumbar isthmic spondylolisthesis (LIS) in Chinese military pilots – Lumbar Fusion

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The article examines the outcomes of lumbar spine surgery for symptomatic lumbar disc herniation (LDH) and lumbar isthmic spondylolisthesis (LIS) in Chinese military pilots. The study conducted a retrospective review of active-duty pilots who underwent decompressive or fusion procedures at a military medical center. The analysis found that 70.8% of the pilots maintained the ability to return to flight duty without surgical complications or medical issues. The remaining pilots experienced issues such as anterior cruciate ligament injuries, residual radicular symptoms, or chronic low back pain. The median time for recommended clearance by spine surgeons was 143.0 days, while the median duration for actual return to flight duty was 221.0 days. Overall, the study concludes that most pilots with LDH and LIS can continue their careers after lumbar spine surgery, effectively alleviating the physical constraints associated with these conditions

Summarised by Mr Mo Akmal – Lead Spinal Surgeon
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Published article

: Most military pilots diagnosed with symptomatic LDH and LIS can continue their careers and regain active-duty flight status following lumbar spine surgery, as reflected by the high RTFD rate. Lumbar spine surgery can successfully alleviate the physical constraints associated with spinal conditions, facilitating the return of military pilots to their demanding profession.

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BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2024 Jan 20;25(1):81. doi: 10.1186/s12891-024-07175-w.ABSTRACTBACKGROUND: Symptomatic lumbar disc herniation (LDH) and lumbar isthmic spondylolisthesis (LIS) present significant challenges for military pilots, which may result in grounding if not effectively managed. Surgical treatment for LDH and LIS may offer a pathway to return to flight duty (RTFD), but recent data on this crucial,

BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2024 Jan 20;25(1):81. doi: 10.1186/s12891-024-07175-w.

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Symptomatic lumbar disc herniation (LDH) and lumbar isthmic spondylolisthesis (LIS) present significant challenges for military pilots, which may result in grounding if not effectively managed. Surgical treatment for LDH and LIS may offer a pathway to return to flight duty (RTFD), but recent data on this crucial topic is lacking. This study seeks to address this gap by investigating the RTFD outcomes among Chinese military pilots who have undergone lumbar spine surgery for symptomatic LDH and LIS.

METHODS: A retrospective review was conducted on active-duty military pilots who underwent isolated decompressive or fusion procedures at an authorized military medical center from March 1, 2007, to March 1, 2023. The analysis utilized descriptive statistics to examine demographic, occupational, surgical, and outcome data, with a particular focus on preoperative flight status, recommended clearance by spine surgeons, and actual RTFD outcomes and time.

RESULTS: Among the identified cases of active-duty military pilots with LDH or LIS treated by lumbar surgery (n = 24), 70.8% (17 of 24) consistently maintained RTFD status without encountering surgical complications or medical issues during the follow-up period. Of the seven pilots who did not RTFD, one retired within a year of surgery, two had anterior cruciate ligament injuries, three had residual radicular symptoms, and one had chronic low back pain. Excluding pilots who retired and did not RTFD for reasons unrelated to their lumbar conditions, the RTFD rate stood at 81.0% (17 of 21). The median time for recommended clearance by spine surgeons was 143.0 days (inter-quartile range, 116.5-196.0), while the median duration for actual RTFD attainment was 221.0 days (inter-quartile range, 182.0-300.0). The median follow-up post-lumbar surgery was 1.7 years (inter-quartile range, 0.4-2.9).

: Most military pilots diagnosed with symptomatic LDH and LIS can continue their careers and regain active-duty flight status following lumbar spine surgery, as reflected by the high RTFD rate. Lumbar spine surgery can successfully alleviate the physical constraints associated with spinal conditions, facilitating the return of military pilots to their demanding profession.

PMID:38245679 | DOI:10.1186/s12891-024-07175-w

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Return to flight duty (RTFD) after posterior lumbar spine surgery for symptomatic lumbar disc herniation (LDH) and lumbar isthmic spondylolisthesis (LIS) in Chinese military pilots

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BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2024 Jan 20;25(1):81. doi: 10.1186/s12891-024-07175-w.ABSTRACTBACKGROUND: Symptomatic lumbar disc herniation (LDH) and lumbar isthmic spondylolisthesis (LIS) present significant challenges for military pilots, which may result in grounding if not effectively managed. Surgical treatment for LDH and LIS may offer a pathway to return to flight duty (RTFD), but recent data on this crucial

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