Background: Thyroid surgery has traditionally been done on an inpatient basis. With the advent of minimal access techniques, drains are frequently not required and ambulatory thyroidectomy is possible.
Design: Prospective, nonrandomized analysis of consecutive series of patients.
Methods and materials: Patients undergoing thyroid surgery between 12/1/04 and 10/31/05 were stratified based on admission status. Demographic data were collected and outcome measures were considered.
Results: Ninety-one patients underwent thyroid surgery. Fifty-two were done on an outpatient basis, 26 patients were observed under a 23-hour status, and 13 were admitted. There were two complications in the outpatient group and one in the inpatient group (P = 1.0). Costs were significantly lower for outpatients ($7,814) than for inpatients ($10,288; P < 0.0001).
Significance: In carefully selected patients who prefer convalescence at home, outpatient thyroidectomy can be performed safely and cost-effectively, particularly when prophylactic calcium supplementation is utilized after total thyroidectomy to prevent transient postoperative hypocalcemia.