Most Frequent Operating Room Procedures

HCUP Statistical Brief #186

Nearly two-thirds of all hospitalizations involve some type of procedure. Many procedures that occur in the hospital setting, such as blood transfusions and vaccinations, are performed outside the operating room (OR). Other procedures, such as hip replacement and spinal fusion, are surgical in nature and are performed in the OR. In 2011, nearly 29 percent of hospital stays involved OR procedures and 48 percent of hospital costs were for stays that involved OR procedures.

Most Frequent Operating Room Procedures Performed in U.S. Hospitals, a statistical brief from the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP), presents data on OR procedures that were performed most frequently in U.S. hospitals.


  • Among hospitalizations for nonmaternal and nonneonatal conditions in 2012, more than one-fourth of stays and half of hospital costs involved stays that included OR procedures.
  • The most common inpatient OR procedures in 2012 involved the musculoskeletal system: knee arthroplasty, laminectomy, hip replacement, and spinal fusion.
  • Between 2003 and 2012, the inpatient OR procedures with the greatest change in rate of occurrence overall were gastrectomy (+10.9 percent) and transurethral prostatectomy (-10.4 percent).
  • Comparing age groups—Spine and joint procedures were common among all age groups except infants. Brachytherapy (internal radiation therapy) among adults aged 45-84 years had the greatest change in rate of any inpatient OR procedure in any age group, decreasing by about 26 percent annually between 2003 and 2012.
  • Comparing men and women—Musculoskeletal procedures were common among both men and women. The OR procedure with the greatest change in rate among men was brachytherapy (-30.2 percent) and among women was gastrectomy (+14.9 percent).
  • Parents of Hispanic children were less likely than parents of white non-Hispanic or black non-Hispanic children to be able to make a routine health care appointment for their children when needed.
  • Comparing payer groups—Knee arthroplasty was the most common OR procedure for stays paid by Medicare and by private insurance. Cholecystectomy was most common for stays paid by Medicaid and for uninsured stays.

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Page last reviewed December 2014
Internet Citation: Most Frequent Operating Room Procedures : HCUP Statistical Brief #186. December 2014. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.