Background: With increasing economic healthcare constraints and an evolving understanding of patient selection criteria and patient safety, outpatient thyroidectomy is now more frequently employed. However, robust statistical analyses evaluating outcomes and safety after outpatient thyroidectomy with matched comparisons to inpatient cohorts are lacking.
Methods: The 2011-2012 NSQIP datasets were queried to identify all patients undergoing thyroidectomy. Inpatient and outpatient procedures cohorts were matched 1:1 using propensity score analysis to assess outcomes. Outcomes of interest included surgical and medical complications, reoperation, mortality, and readmission. Univariate and multivariate analyses were utilized to identify predictors of these events. Relative risk ratios were calculated for adverse events between inpatient and outpatient cohorts.
Results: In total, 21,508 patients were identified to have undergone a thyroidectomy in 2011-2012. Inpatients and outpatients were matched 1:1 with respect to preoperative and operative characteristics, leaving 8,185 patients in each treatment arm. After matching, overall 30-day morbidity was rare with only 250 patients (1.53 %) experiencing any perioperative morbidity. 476 patients (2.91 %) were readmitted within 30-days of the operation. Both pre- and post-matching, inpatient thyroidectomy was associated with increased risks of readmission, reoperation, and any complication.
Conclusions: Based on this comprehensive population-based study, outpatient thyroidectomy appears to be at least as safe as inpatient thyroidectomy. However, there are still differences in outcomes between inpatient and outpatient cohorts, despite statistical matching of preoperative and intraoperative variables. Future research needs to be spent identifying these as-of-yet unknown risk factors to resolve this discrepancy.