Low Complication Rate of Anterior Lumbar Spine Surgery in an Ambulatory Surgery Center

As healthcare costs rise, attempts are being made to perform an increasing proportion of spine surgery in ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs). ASCs are more efficient, both economically and functionally. There remains uncertainty regarding the safety of performing anterior lumbar procedures requiring vascular access, as little has been published on this subset of patients.


This is a consecutive case series analysis of anterior lumbar spine surgeries that were performed in a free-standing ASC in a private-practice setting over a 1-year period, including anterior lumbar interbody fusion, artificial disc replacement, and hybrid procedures. The preoperative, intraoperative, and postoperative data recorded included age, gender, body mass index, tobacco use, and the presence of diabetes; level and procedure, operating room time, estimated blood loss, complications; discharge site, occurrence of reoperation, hospital admission, or any medical complication or infection over a 90-day period.


Fifty-one patients underwent 63 treated levels (34 artificial disc replacement, 29 anterior lumbar interbody fusion): 40 single-level, 10 two-level, one three-level. Average age was 45 years; 27 female, 24 males. None of the patients were diabetics, three were current smokers, seven were former smokers. Average body mass index was 27 ± 4 (range 16-36). Average total anesthesia time was 100 minutes (range 57-187 minutes). Average estimated blood loss was 23 mL (range 5-250 mL). Seventy-one percent of patients were discharged directly home, 29% to an aftercare facility. In the 30-day postoperative period there were no deaths, one hospital admission for pain, and no significant medical complications or surgical site infections.


In this consecutive case series artificial disc replacement or anterior lumbar interbody fusion was performed at 63 levels in 51 patients in the ASC setting with an observed major complication rate of zero and hospital unplanned admission rate of 2% (1/51). This provides some evidence that these procedures are safe to perform in the ASC setting. However, a highly experienced vascular surgeon and efficient surgical team, and strict patient selection criteria are all critical in making this possible.