Spinal Fusion

noena58d

New Member
After reading several posts, I know it is possible to get a class 1 or 2 after having spinal surgery (fusion with titanium rods and screws, and lamenectomy). My question has to do with the actual injury and resulting damage. I sustained a burst fracture of the L1 and L2 vertibrea with spinal cord damage. I have been walking since about 3 weeks after the accident, but I do have some nerve damage in the lower extrematies. I can feel most of my legs with just diminished sensation through out the legs. After physical therapy I now have a 5/5 on both legs on the strength tests. Have not used any assistance device ie.. wheelchair or walker for the last 8 months. The injury was just about a year ago. Curious if this limits me from qualifying for a class 1 or class 2.
 

Bandit_Driver

Gold Member
I know a FE that had the fusion done after a few lamenectomies failed. He was able to get his medical back after a few months of rehab and submitting a bunch of forms and letters to the FAA.
 

Stonefly

New Member
After reading several posts, I know it is possible to get a class 1 or 2 after having spinal surgery (fusion with titanium rods and screws, and lamenectomy). My question has to do with the actual injury and resulting damage. I sustained a burst fracture of the L1 and L2 vertibrea with spinal cord damage. I have been walking since about 3 weeks after the accident, but I do have some nerve damage in the lower extrematies. I can feel most of my legs with just diminished sensation through out the legs. After physical therapy I now have a 5/5 on both legs on the strength tests. Have not used any assistance device ie.. wheelchair or walker for the last 8 months. The injury was just about a year ago. Curious if this limits me from qualifying for a class 1 or class 2.
I've had an Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (ALIF) of L4-L5-S1. I don't have any hardware, it was all done with cadaver bone and bone taken from both of my own hips. I was able to get a First Class, but it took some effort from my surgeon as the surgery I had was still in the "study" phase. It helped that my surgeon is also a pilot (no, he doesn't fly a Bonanza).

If you have any other questions, feel free to ask or PM me.
 

My Flight Surgeon

Sr. Aviation Medical Examiner
After reading several posts, I know it is possible to get a class 1 or 2 after having spinal surgery (fusion with titanium rods and screws, and lamenectomy). My question has to do with the actual injury and resulting damage. I sustained a burst fracture of the L1 and L2 vertibrea with spinal cord damage. I have been walking since about 3 weeks after the accident, but I do have some nerve damage in the lower extrematies. I can feel most of my legs with just diminished sensation through out the legs. After physical therapy I now have a 5/5 on both legs on the strength tests. Have not used any assistance device ie.. wheelchair or walker for the last 8 months. The injury was just about a year ago. Curious if this limits me from qualifying for a class 1 or class 2.
As long as your strength, range of motion and function of your legs is normal you will have no problem. There are many pilots who have had back surgeries of multiple types and hold a medical. The AME must make statements on the 8500-8 the first time you get the medical that you have no loss of function - that will decrease the likelihood of queries for more information from the FAA. And stay away from experimental surgery - it is unproven and the FAA does not like it.
 

noena58d

New Member
Thanks for the relpys. Should I take all my x-rays and images along with other documents with me to the appointment with the AME, or wait and see what info he will want or need? Secondly, should I be selective when choosing an AME?
 

My Flight Surgeon

Sr. Aviation Medical Examiner
Just report the condition in detail on the 8500-8. The AME should inquire about the history so he can make comments in Box 60.

Yes, be selective - use an AME who does 25+ physical a month. The average AME does that many in a year. The problem lies in 1) familiarity with what the FAA wants - the guy who does alot of physicals is used to dealing with the FAA, and 2) an AME who is a busy family doc or a busy "ologist" does not have time to address these non-routine issues when he is trying to fit a flight physical into a 10 minute appointment slot. We are in the top 5% of AME's for numbers of medicals performed and often find that pilots who want to an AME who does very few medicals usually gets deferred rather than walked through the Special Issuance process.
 
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