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Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine:
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e318212226d
Original Articles

Peripheral Neuropathy in Military Aircraft Maintenance Workers in Australia

Guest, Maya BOHS, BMedSci (Hon); Attia, John R. PhD, MD; D'Este, Catherine A. PhD; Boggess, May M. PhD; Brown, Anthony M. MPH; Gibson, Richard E. GradDip (Med Stats); Tavener, Meredith A. PhD; Ross, James MPH; Gardner, Ian MPH; Harrex, Warren MSc (OccMed)

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Objective: This study aimed to examine possible persisting peripheral neuropathy in a group who undertook fuel tank repairs on F-111 aircraft, relative to two contemporaneous comparison groups.

Methods: Vibration perception threshold (VPT) was tested using biothesiometry in 614 exposed personnel, compared with two unexposed groups (513 technical trades and 403 nontrades). Regression modeling was used to examine associations, adjusting for possible confounders.

Results: We observed that 26% of participants had chronic persistent increased VPT in the great toe. In contrast, statistically significant higher VPT of the great toe was observed in the comparison groups; however, the effect was small, about 1/4 the magnitude of diabetes. Age, height, and diabetes were all significant and strong predictors in most models.

Conclusion: This study highlights chronic persisting peripheral neuropathy in a population of aircraft maintainers.

©2011The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine


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