A Comparison of Narcotic Consumption Between Hospital and Ambulatory-Based Surgery Centers Following Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion

Int J Spine Surg. 2018 Oct 15;12(5):595-602. doi: 10.14444/5075. eCollection 2018 Oct.


Background: Several studies have compared outcomes between hospital-based (HBCs) and ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs) following anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF). However, the association between narcotic consumption and pain in the early postoperative period has not been well characterized. As such, the purpose of this study is to compare pain, narcotic consumption, and length of stay (LOS) between HBC and ASC patients undergoing same-day-discharge following ACDF.

Methods: A surgical registry of patients who underwent a primary, 1- or 2-level ACDF during 2013-2015 was reviewed. Patients were stratified by operative location. Differences in demographics were assessed using independent-sample t tests and chi-square analysis. The presence of an association between operative location and outcomes was analyzed using Poisson regression with robust error variance or linear regression adjusted for preoperative characteristics.

Results: A total of 76 patients were identified, of which 42 and 34 underwent surgery at an HBC or ASC, respectively. The HBC cohort had greater total (P < .001) and hourly (P = .034) narcotic consumption and prolonged LOS (P < .001). Over 90% of ASC patients consumed less than or equal to the 30th percentile (32.0 mg) of oral morphine equivalents (OME), whereas over 57% of HBC patients consumed greater than 32.0 mg OME. The HBC cohort consumed greater average doses of fentanyl and oxycodone (P < .001 for each).

Conclusions: This study demonstrates that patients undergoing same-day surgery for primary 1- or 2-level ACDF received more narcotics at HBCs compared to at ASCs. The increased narcotic consumption at HBCs may have resulted in longer LOS; however, this did not impact long-term pain, complications, or clinical outcomes.

Clinical relevance: Patients scheduled to be discharged on postoperative day 0 following ACDF at HBCs may be able to receive fewer narcotics and be discharged sooner without compromising pain control or increasing their risk for complications.

Keywords: ambulatory surgery center; anterior cervical discectomy and fusion; hospital; inpatient pain; narcotic consumption; same-day discharge.