To evaluate the safety and cost of outpatient cardiac catheterization, we conducted a randomized trial at three hospitals of outpatient (n = 192) as compared with inpatient (n = 189) cardiac catheterization in low-risk patients.
There were no significant differences between the two groups in whether they resumed normal activities or in the rates of rehospitalization within one week of the procedure. Total catheterization-related charges per patient were $679 lower for outpatients, with total savings in hospital charges of $885 per patient.
We conclude that elective cardiac catheterization as an outpatient procedure for selected patients is feasible and safe. Given the small size of our sample, however, we urge caution in interpreting these findings, since they do not exclude a small increase in complication rates with outpatient cardiac catheterization.