Outpatient procedures are “In”

Posted on: May 8th, 2023 by Dr. Mark Barba

Advancements in modern medicine and even the COVID-19 pandemic have drastically increased orthopedic outpatient surgeries in the U.S. over the last several years. In fact, nearly 80 percent of all procedures performed by OrthoIllinois physicians in 2022 were outpatient.

Sometimes referred to as same-day or ambulatory surgery, outpatient procedures allow for patients to be discharged on the same day, and in turn, providing high-quality outcomes and enhancing the overall patient experience.

Common outpatient procedures

Most elective procedures today are fairly noninvasive, allowing patients to return to the comfort of their homes within hours of the surgery being completed. Some procedures that are commonly performed same day include:

  • Hip or knee replacements
  • Hand, wrist, or elbow surgery
  • Spine surgery
  • Sports injuries such as ACL repair
  • Rotator cuff repair
  • Foot or ankle surgery

Overnight hospital stays are still required for non-elective surgeries for major traumas or for patient populations who may require a significant level of care after a procedure due to age, social support, or medical history.

Medical advancements increasing same-day surgeries

Many factors have contributed to the recent increase in outpatient surgeries, such as physician and patient education and better medical materials. Even the COVID-19 pandemic forced the healthcare community to learn more about medical techniques to help get the patients discharged to their homes rather than staying in a hospital.

Going into surgery in the best shape possible can dramatically impact the overall outcome and recovery of an individual. With that, doctors are becoming much better at educating and preparing patients prior to surgery, so they know what to expect before, during, and after the procedure. In many cases, patients are also participating in preoperative physical therapy or medical “tune-ups” to improve things like strength, nutrition, weight, glucose levels, or stress. Through this process, physicians are also learning more about the patients and how to personalize the approach to surgery based on medical conditions.

Pharmacological research has also played a role in this upward trend of same-day procedures. Newer anesthetic methods using narcotics with fewer side effects (confusion, constipation, drowsiness) or spinal anesthesia can help get patients safely discharged much sooner than in the past. Furthermore, alternative post-surgery pain management such as relaxation or acupuncture has been known to provide successful pain relief to patients.

In addition, modern surgical dressings are sleek, waterproof and bacteria resistant. Applied at surgery, they require no maintenance and are removed in the office. They tolerate showering well and can be worn under clothing.

Benefits to the patient

Ambulatory surgeries are dramatically improving patient outcomes and overall experience.

First and foremost, rest is crucial after any type of procedure and recovery at home gives patients the ability to be more comfortable, experience fewer distractions and eliminate unnecessary stress. Patients can also spend more time with family members and enjoy home-cooked meals.

Convenience, accessibility, and safety are also all major benefits. Navigating a large hospital from admissions to preoperative holding to the operating room to recovery can be stressful and seem burdensome for a patient already experiencing pain or an injury. Ambulatory centers are much smaller and often require fewer steps and interactions with medical staff, which saves time and makes visits safer.

What’s next?

Outpatient procedures will continue to trend and increase over the next several years as technology advances and research continues. One example includes Bluetooth active implants, which can extract a significant amount of patient data, communicate with doctors in real time and intervene in patient challenges more quickly.

Medical devices are also becoming more durable and can last much longer than in the past allowing surgeons to be able to perform procedures on younger patients who are typically the best candidates for outpatient procedures.

The surgery centers at OrthoIllinois offer the very best in patient care with board-certified physicians, experienced anesthesiologists, and dedicated nurses and technicians. To learn more, visit or call 815-398-9491.

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