Trend of Spine Surgeries in the Outpatient Hospital Setting Versus Ambulatory Surgical Center

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Study Design.

Retrospective database review.


The aim of the present study was to examine how often spine surgery is being performed in an outpatient hospital setting versus a more “true” ambulatory setting, specifically ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs) in which admission and discharge are required on the same calendar day.

Summary of Background Data.

Recent studies have assessed the safety, satisfactory clinical outcomes, and increasing utilization of both cervical and lumbar spinal surgeries performed in the outpatient setting. No studies have delineated between true ambulatory settings and outpatient hospitals when assessing the rates of these procedures.


A retrospective review of the Truven Health Marketscan Research Databases was conducted for patients undergoing spine operations between 2003 and 2014. The frequency of each Common Procedural Terminology code was identified per year, and then categorized into each of “inpatient hospital,” “outpatient hospital,” or “ASC” in states that clearly define ASCs as facilities in which patients are discharged on the same calendar day of the operation, and do not stay overnight.


During the period between 2003 and 2014, the procedures that had the most dramatic increase as an outpatient hospital procedure included lumbar decompression laminotomy first level (18.7%–68.5%) and posterior cervical decompression laminectomy without facetectomy discectomy first level (0%–46.7%). ASC procedures had more modest increases during this time period with the most significant increases in lumbar decompression laminotomy first level (0.7%–10.6%) and posterior cervical decompression laminotomy first level (0%–23.4%).


“True” ambulatory surgeries are not increasing at the same rate as outpatient procedures with 23-hour observation capacity. Although prior studies have demonstrated the safety of outpatient spine surgery, one possible reason for this trend may be that surgeons feel that this safety may not be comparable to that of other outpatient procedures.


Level of Evidence: 3

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