36% of anesthesia cases now take place outside of the operating room: 3 research insights

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An analysis of the Anesthesia Quality Institute's National Anesthesia Clinical Outcomes Registry found that, compared to previous years, more patients are undergoing procedures that involve anesthesia outside of the operating room.

The researchers suggest that this shift is driven by minimally invasive procedures and tests, which do not require general anesthesia. Instead, these procedures may involve intravenous sedation or regional anesthesia.

Here's what you need to know:

1. From 2010 to 2014, there were more than 5.9 million non-operating room anesthesia cases and 12.4 million operating room anesthesia cases; the percentage of cases performed outside of the operating room increased from 28 percent to 36 percent during this period.

2. Patients who undergo anesthesia outside of the operating room are an average of 3.5 years older than the patients who undergo anesthesia in the operating room; these patients may have been urged to receive minimally invasive procedures with lower risk due to their age.

3. The most common procedure involving anesthesia outside of the operating room was colonoscopy.

"The growth reflects a shift toward safer, less-invasive procedures and tests that still require anesthesia," said Richard Dutton, MD, a senior author of the study and chief quality officer for U.S. Anesthesia Partners in Dallas.

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