Epidemiology of ambulatory anesthesia for children in the United States: 2006 and 1996

Jennifer A. Rabbitts, Cornelius B. Groenewald, James P. Moriarty, Randall Flick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

76 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: There are few data that describe the frequency, anesthetic type, provider, or disposition of children requiring outpatient anesthesia in the United States (US). Since the early 1980s, the frequency of ambulatory surgery has increased dramatically because of advances in medical technology and changes in payment arrangements. Our primary aim in this study was to quantify the number of ambulatory anesthetics for children that occur annually and to study the change in utilization of pediatric anesthetic care over a decade. METHODS: The US National Center for Health Statistics performed the National Survey of Ambulatory Surgery in 1994 through 1996 and again in 2006. The survey is based on data abstracted from a national sample of ambulatory surgery centers and provides data on visits for surgical and nonsurgical procedures for patients of all ages. We abstracted data for children who had general anesthesia, regional anesthesia, or monitored anesthesia care during the ambulatory visit. We obtained the information from the 2006 and 1996 databases and used population census data to estimate the annual utilization of ambulatory anesthesia per 1000 children in the US. RESULTS: In 2006, an estimated 2.3 million ambulatory anesthesia episodes of care were provided in the US to children younger than 15 years (38 of 1000 children). This amount compares with 26 per 1000 children of the same age group in 1996. In most cases, an anesthesiologist was involved in both time periods (74% in 2006 and 85% in 1996). Of the children, 14,200 were admitted to the hospital postoperatively, a rate of 6 per 1000 ambulatory anesthesia episodes. CONCLUSION: The number and rate of ambulatory anesthesia episodes for US children increased dramatically over a decade. This study provides an example of how databases can provide useful information to health care policy makers and educators on the utilization of ambulatory surgical centers by children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1011-1015
Number of pages5
JournalAnesthesia and analgesia
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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