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Outpatient surgery saves the risk of nosocomial complications and health care dollars. Patients undergoing lumbar microsurgical discectomy are excellent candidates for outpatient surgery. The object of this study was to examine the feasibility of performing lumbar microdiscectomy on an outpatient protocol and to examine the potential savings associated with such a protocol.
From February 1997 to September, 2001, 122 consecutive patients of the senior author were entered into a protocol of outpatient lumbar microdiscectomy. Only elective cases were considered for this study. Patients were excluded if they had significant co-morbidities, lived a significant distance out of town, or if their surgery was scheduled too late in the day. Success was defined as discharge home from the day-surgery unit approximately four hours after surgery.
During the study period, 150 elective lumbar microdiscectomies were performed. Twenty-four patients were excluded based on the above criteria and four patients requested not to participate in the study. Of the remaining 122, 116 successfully completed the protocol (95.1%). Six patients were admitted from the day surgery unit; two patients with dural tears and four patients with anaesthetic side-effects. No patient was readmitted to hospital after discharge and no complications of early discharge were observed. There was a total reduction in hospitalization of 1.2 nights per elective procedure considering the 150 patients, when compared with the hospitalization times prior to outpatient lumbar microdiscectomy.
Lumbar microdiscectomy can be performed safely as an outpatient procedure, resulting in a substantial reduction in hospitalization times.
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