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Understanding Outpatient Surgery

If you need surgery, there's a better-than-average chance that you'll have it and go home the same day. Thanks to advances in technology and anesthesia, nearly 6 of every 10 surgeries performed at hospitals are done as "outpatient" procedures, which means you go home the same day you have your surgery. Nearly 35 million such surgeries are performed each year in the U.S., according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).


Some reasons outpatient surgery has become more popular:

  • Convenience. With outpatient surgery, a person returns home on the same day as the procedure.

  • Advances in medical technology. These advances allow doctors to use less invasive procedures than were once needed.

  • Lower cost. Care costs are much lower for outpatient surgery because there are no charges for hospital rooms and care.

  • Less stress. Most people find outpatient surgery less stressful than inpatient surgery because they can recover at home.


Procedures routinely done in outpatient settings include removal of tonsils and adenoids, adding ear tubes, hernia repairs, gallbladder operations, colonoscopies, hemorrhoid repairs, cataract surgery, liposuction, cosmetic surgery, and some foot, ankle, and hand operations.


Outpatient surgeries are performed in a variety of settings:

  • Hospital outpatient centers. These are hospital-owned and operated facilities (on hospital grounds) that specialize in outpatient surgery.

  • Freestanding surgery centers. These are owned by a group of doctors, for-profit companies, or hospitals.

  • Doctors' offices. Doctors can perform minor procedures in their offices. These include skin biopsies, mole removal, and wrinkle removal.


Publication Source: Vitality magazine/March 2006
Author: Floria, Barbara
Online Source: American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. Ambulatory surgical Centers Position Statement <a href="" target="_blank"></a>
Online Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Same Day Surgery What You SHould Know <a href="" target="_blank"></a>
Online Source: american society of PeriAnesthesia Nurses. Outpatient Surgery <a href="" target="_blank"></a>
Online Editor: Metzger, Geri
Online Medical Reviewer: MMI board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Online Medical Reviewer: Sweetwood, Jane, RN, MSN
Date Last Reviewed: 11/2/2013
Date Last Modified: 11/8/2013
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