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Mil Med. 2016 Jun;181(6):572-6. doi: 10.7205/MILMED-D-15-00216.

Return to Duty Rates in Active Duty Service Members After Elective Surgery of the Lumbar Spine.

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Department of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation, San Antonio Military Medical Center, 3551 Roger Brooke Drive, Fort Sam Houston, TX 78234.



The aim of this study is to define the percentage of military service members returned to active duty following elective lumbar spine surgery.


We reviewed 331 elective lumbar spine procedures performed on active duty service members over a 5-year period. All patients underwent a decompressive lumbar procedure with or without fusion. Return to duty (RTD) was our primary outcome, defined as no referral to a Medical Evaluation Board by the 12-month postoperative follow-up visit. All subject's final disposition was recorded as a binomial distribution and stratified by demographic parameters. Subgroup analysis comparing the return rates for specific procedures was performed.


232 patients met our study inclusion criteria. 136 underwent isolated decompressive procedures and 96 patients underwent fusion procedures. The overall RTD rate following elective lumbar spine surgery was 64% (n = 149) (95% confidence interval, CI [58, 70]). The RTD rate for isolated decompressive procedures was 63% (n = 86) (95% CI [55, 71]), and 66% (n = 63) (95% CI [56, 75]) after decompression with lumbar fusion.


The RTD rate following elective lumbar spine surgery is 64%. When stratified by procedure type, isolated decompression procedures (63% RTD rate) and fusion procedures (66% RTD rate) displayed similar results.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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