Definition of Ambulatory Surgery

Ambulatory Surgery – Surgery, sometimes called same-day or outpatient surgery, in which the person comes to the hospital or ambulatory surgery facility the day of the surgery, has the operation, and goes home without an overnight stay in the hospital.

Often the operation uses minimally invasive surgery procedures such as endoscopic methods (laparoscopy, arthroscopy), which greatly reduce the size of the incision and the amount of trauma the body experiences during operation. Minimally invasive surgery techniques allow a rapid course of recovery in the immediate postoperative period as well as over the longer term.

Surgeons also can perform numerous open surgery procedures on an ambulatory surgery basis. People tend to feel more comfortable recovering in their own homes and often require lower doses of pain medications during their recovery. As well, a shorter stay reduces the risk for nosocomial infections (infections acquired from exposure to bacteria in the hospital environment) and more quickly returns a person to regular activities.

Because each person’s rate of recovery is unique, some people more quickly return to consciousness from sedation or general anesthesia and to function from regional anesthesia to engage in basic activities such as drinking fluids and going to the bathroom. Underlying health conditions also influence how quickly a person is ready to leave after ambulatory surgery.

Hospitals and ambulatory (outpatient) surgery facilities are equipped and staffed to handle medical emergencies that may arise and are prepared for a person to stay overnight in a hospital should circumstances warrant additional care or observation. The person returns to his or her surgeon for follow-up care such as wound check, suture removal, and dressing changes.


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