Objectives Outpatient thyroid surgery is becoming increasingly common. The aim of this study was to clarify the principles for safe outpatient thyroid surgery and review our outcomes with the use of a protocol for outpatient thyroidectomy in a large patient cohort. Study design A systematic analysis of a prospectively maintained database of outcomes of thyroidectomy in a tertiary endocrine surgery practice. Setting Academic medical center. Subjects and methods A protocol for outpatient thyroidectomy was conceived and refined over 3 years. A prospective analysis of all thyroidectomies accomplished by a single surgeon who used this protocol from May 2006 to November 2013 was then undertaken. Patient demographics, operative and pathologic data, admission status, complications, and readmission rates were recorded. Results A total of 1,311 thyroidectomy procedures were performed during the study period, of which 1,026 (78.3 %) were conducted on an outpatient basis. The readmission rate for outpatients was 0.9%, with only 1 readmission in the last 200 procedures. Inpatients (which included patients in the 23-hour "observation" category) were readmitted more often than outpatients (3.5% vs 0.9%, P <.01). Outpatient management increased steadily throughout the study period (from 59.7% to 92.3%, P <.01), despite a larger mean nodule size and a greater rate of malignancy over time. There were no changes in the complication rate across the study timeframe except for the incidence of temporary hypocalcemia, which decreased over time (P <.01). Conclusion Outpatient thyroid surgery is safe in appropriately selected patients using an optimized and systematic protocol.
ASJC Scopus subject areas