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For Immediate Release: January 28, 2009
Contact: CDC National Center for Health Statistics
Office of Communication
(301) 458-4800

U.S. Outpatient Surgeries on the Rise

The number of outpatient surgery visits in the United States increased from 20.8 million visits in 1996 to 34.7 million visits in 2006, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Outpatient surgery visits accounted for about half of all surgery visits in 1996 but nearly two thirds of all surgery visits in 2006, the report said.

The report, Ambulatory Surgery in the United States, 2006, contains the first data on outpatient surgery visits since 1996. The data were collected from 142 hospitals and 295 freestanding centers as part of the National Survey of Ambulatory Surgery (NSAS).

The outpatient surgery visits to freestanding centers increased three-fold from 1996 to 2006, whereas the rate for outpatient surgery visits to hospital centers was relatively unchanged. Visits to hospital centers, at 19.9 million, continued to outnumber those to freestanding centers, at 14.9 million (57 percent compared to nearly 43 percent).

The report also found that in 2006:

  • An estimated 57.1 million surgical and nonsurgical procedures were performed during 34.7 million outpatient surgery visits in 2006.
  • Females had significantly more ambulatory surgery visits (20 million) than males (14.7 million).
  • The procedures performed most often during outpatient surgery visits included endoscopies of the large intestine (5.8 million) and small intestine (3.5 million) and extraction of lens for cataract surgery (3.1 million).
  • The leading diagnosis for outpatient surgery visits was cataract, with three million visits, followed by benign tumor (neoplasm) with two million visits, and malignant tumor with 1.2 million visits.
  • The average time spent in the operating room during an outpatient surgery visit varied from 61.7 minutes for hospital centers to 43.2 minutes for freestanding centers. Time spent in surgery and recovery and overall visit time were also higher for hospital centers.
  • More than half of outpatient surgery visits (53 percent) were paid by private insurance.

The National Survey of Ambulatory Surgery is a nationally representative survey that covers surgery visits by children and adults and procedures performed in both hospital-based and freestanding surgery centers. It excludes federal, military and VA hospitals. Data were collected from medical records at the facilities.

The full report is available at



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