A Patients' Guide to Outpatient Surgery

What Are the Benefits of Spine Surgery Performed at an Ambulatory Surgery Center?

Commentary by key opinion leaders in spine surgery

Outpatient surgery centers (OPSCs), often referred to as Ambulatory Surgery Centers (ASCs), are an expanding area of health care with increasing rates of more complicated spine surgeries being performed in the outpatient setting as opposed to only in hospitals, as was the case in the past.1

To better understand the potential benefits of having spine procedures (such as spinal decompression or spine fusion and discectomy to relieve low back or neck pain) performed in at an OPSC/ASC, SpineUniverse spoke with leaders in the field, including Domagoj Coric, MD, Choll Kim, MD, Gerald Rodts, MD, and Dwight Tyndall, MD.
Three surgeons in the operating roomThe main benefit of performing spinal procedures in the ASC setting for the patient is the decreased risk of infection. Photo Source: Pixabay.

What are the benefits of having spine procedures performed in an OPSC/ASC?

Dr. Coric: Appropriate procedures performed at OPSCs generally have high patient satisfaction rates and low infection rates at significantly lower costs compared to similar procedures performed in the hospital setting. The definition of value in healthcare is quality delivered at lower costs, which is exactly what is offered in OPSCs.

Dr. Kim: The main benefit of performing spinal procedures in the ASC setting for the patient is the decreased risk of infection. There is also the added benefit of decreasing the length of stay, which may lead to decreased financial burden to the patient, depending on the patient’s specific health care policy benefits as it relates to patient copays. In addition, ASCs tend to be more personal and patient friendly due to smaller size of staff.

Dr. Rodts: The benefits include having your surgery at a smaller facility that has a medical staff (surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses, scrub techs) who are very specialized and experienced include a markedly increased efficiency of pre-operative time, operative time, and postoperative recovery. Also, quicker (in-and-out) surgeries may (though this is not yet proven) lower the risk of hospital-acquired wound/lung/urinary tract infections compared to patients undergoing surgery in the inpatient hospital setting.

Dr. Tyndall: Outpatient surgery centers are the best place to have surgery for most cervical and lumbar diseases. ASCs offer better patient experience and potentially with significant cost savings.

What might patients not know about the care, cost, or types of procedures performed at ASCs vs in the hospital setting?

Dr. Rodts: Most patients today may not be aware of the variety of spinal surgeries that are already being done successfully in the ambulatory outpatient surgical setting. Until recently, the types of surgeries performed by a neurosurgeon or orthopaedic spine surgeon in an outpatient setting were very simple things like carpal tunnel releases. Now multilevel anterior cervical fusions, bilateral lumbar laminectomies, and even lumbar fusions (less-invasive techniques) are now being done in increasing numbers.

Dr. Tyndall: Patients might not be aware of how much lower the costs are for outpatient surgical spine procedures compared with those performed in hospitals.

Updated on: 08/06/19
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