Rate of Return to Military Active Duty After Single and 2-Level Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion: A 4-Year Retrospective Review

Luis M. Tumialán, Ryan P. Ponton, Angelina N. Cooper, Wayne M Gluf, Jeffrey M. Tomlin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


BACKGROUND: Over the years of rigorous of military service, military personnel may experience cervical spondylosis and radiculopathy. Given the frequency of this occurrence, the capacity to return to unrestricted full duty in the military after anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) is worthy of analysis. OBJECTIVE: To identify the rate of return to full, unrestricted active duty after single and 2-level anterior cervical discectomy, and fusion surgery in military personnel. METHODS: A retrospective chart review was performed at a tertiary care military treatment facility for all active duty personnel who underwent a single or 2-level ACDF over a 4-yr period. Patient and procedural data were collected to include single or 2-level fusion, indication for surgery, fusion level, tobacco use, age, and military rank. Fischer's Exact and Wilcoxon Rank Sum tests were used to identify statistically significant differences in the rate of return to active duty. RESULTS: A total of 132 anterior cervical discectomy and fusions were analyzed. One hundred sixteen patients (88%) were able to return to unrestricted full active duty, while the remaining 16 required separation from the military for continued pain or disability. The return to active duty rate was significantly higher in service members with a rank of E7 or above (99%) than those E6 and below (73%). There was a strong association between the presence of a pseudoarthrosis and the capacity to return to full duty (P = .013). CONCLUSION: Both single and 2-level ACDFs have high overall success with an 88% rate of return to full duty.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)96-104
Number of pages9
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1 2019



  • Active duty military
  • Anterior
  • Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology

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