US Outpatient Surgeries Increasingly Common

Outpatient surgeries accounted for half of all surgeries in 1996 and nearly two-thirds of surgeries in 2006
By Rick Ansorge
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Jan. 30 (HealthDay News) -- Outpatient surgery visits are rising in the United States, with the number increasing from 20.8 million in 1996 to 34.7 million in 2006. They now account for nearly two-thirds of all surgery visits compared to about half of all surgery visits in 1996, according to a report issued Jan. 28 by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In their report -- "Ambulatory Surgery in the United States, 2006" -- Karen A. Cullen, Ph.D., and colleagues collected medical records at 142 hospitals and 295 freestanding centers as part of the National Survey of Ambulatory Surgery, a representative sample that excludes federal, military and VA hospitals.

Between 1996 and 2006, the number of outpatient surgery visits to freestanding centers nearly tripled while the number of visits to hospitals did not significantly change, the investigators found. Overall, however, there were fewer visits to freestanding centers than to hospitals (14.9 million versus 19.9 million), they note. Endoscopies of the large intestine accounted for the largest number of procedures performed during outpatient surgery visits (5.8 million) followed by endoscopies of the small intestine and lens extractions for cataract surgery (3.5 million and 3.1 million, respectively), the report indicates.

"Ambulatory surgery has been increasing in the United States since the early 1980s," the authors write. "Two major reasons for the increase are advances in medical technology and changes in payment arrangements. The medical advances include improvements in anesthesia, which enable patients to regain consciousness more quickly with fewer after effects and better analgesics for relief of pain. In addition, minimally invasive and non-invasive procedures have been developed and are being used with increasing frequency."

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