It used to be that when you needed surgery, including back surgery in Charleston, you had to go to the hospital. That’s no longer the case. In fact, the number of medical procedures performed outside hospitals has tripled since the 1980s. More and more medical practices — including the Southeastern Spine Institute (SSI) — have invested in onsite ambulatory surgery centers to better care for their patients.
An ambulatory surgery center or ASC is a modern, fully equipped facility for outpatient surgical procedures. An ASC contains the same surgical and safety equipment and personnel you’d find in a hospital surgical suite. Some ASCs are geared for a particular type of surgery, such as plastic surgery in Atlanta or back surgery in Charleston.
The Advantages of an ASC
- Convenient location. The Southeastern Spine Institute’s ASC is located on the same campus as its examination rooms, X-rays and MRIs, pharmacy, labs, pain management and physical therapy facilities. The 41,000-square-foot campus provides everything your spinal doctor might need to diagnose and treat your back pain… including surgical options.
There are several obvious advantages to having your procedure performed in an ambulatory surgery center, such as the personal attention you receive and the lack of exposure to a wide range of infections. Some of the other advantages include:
- Shorter wait time. If you wanted to have your procedure in a hospital, you often have to wait for it. The operating room has to be scheduled, the doctors and support staff have to be brought together and the hospital administration staff has to oversee every step in the process. If you opt for having your procedure in an ambulatory surgery center, there is very little wait time. In fact, you could have…
- Same day surgery available. The physicians at SSI follow a conservative handbook, meaning they always try non-surgical options first. If, however, your spine physician determines that you need surgery to relieve your pain and finally resolve your health issues, you can have your operation on the same day as an outpatient. That night, you’ll be home recuperating.
- Lower overall costs. A hospital, as you can imagine, has lots of overhead. That’s one reason hospital bills are so high. An ASC, on the other hand, is a smaller, dedicated space, keeping costs down. As a result, you’ll pay less for your procedure if it’s done in an ASC instead of in a hospital.
- Outpatient procedure. Because no expensive overnight stay is required after the procedure, you can recuperate at home. Overnight stays contribute to the higher prices hospitals charge, but at SSI, you’ll be home with a complete set of doctor instructions on how to care for yourself as you heal.
- Targeted service and more privacy. Hospitals are worse than hotels when it comes to privacy. You share your room, your nurse and your operating room. When you use the ASC at SSI, the surgeons, nurses and facility specialize in spinal medicine. Also, since the ASC is on the SSI campus, you don’t have to be wheeled through a series of corridors. You’re right there, which equates to more privacy.
The Disadvantages of an ASC
There are inherent disadvantages to using an ambulatory surgery center, too. As with any medical procedure, educate yourself and ask questions so that you feel comfortable with your back surgery in Charleston.
- Outpatient procedures only. Ambulatory surgery centers suggest in its name that they are for patients who can walk in. Not all surgical procedures are appropriate for an ASC. Your spinal surgeon at SSI can determine whether or not your procedure qualifies for the ASC. Your safety always is the first concern.
- No overnight facilities. An ASC is for outpatient procedures only. If you need to spend a night in a supervised location, most ASCs do not have overnight facilities. Instead, they will transport you to a nearby hospital for overnight observation.
- Complications and emergencies require transfers. In the rare event of a surgical complication or a medical emergency, you may need to be transferred to a nearby hospital. ASCs are not prepared for every type of emergency, but the surgeon can safely transfer you to a hospital that is. SSI takes its responsibilities very seriously and has plans in place for such contingencies.
- Some patients do not qualify. If you have a particularly complicated medical issue or prior health problems that increase your risk, you may be better off having your procedure done in a hospital. Your spinal physician will be able to explain to you his decision if he determines that you cannot have an ASC procedure. It’s for your own safety.
Most back surgery in Charleston can be performed in an ambulatory surgery center. If you need surgery, ask your surgeon whether you qualify.