People who have colon surgery at high-volume hospitals are more likely than patients at smaller ones to go straight home for recovery without needing special care, according to a large new study.

There are many ways to gauge the success of a surgery. Being able to perform daily activities and get around independently after the procedure is as important as surviving and avoiding complications, senior author Dr. Daniel Anaya told Reuters Health.

Recovery often takes a while after colorectal surgery, and understanding the recovery process is important to making it better, said Anaya, from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston

"Our goal is to identify what the high-volume hospitals are doing differently from other hospitals that lead to improved outcomes," lead author Dr. Courtney J. Balentine, also from Baylor, said.

"Once we figure out why some hospitals do better than others, we can help every hospital adopt the practices that really work so that all patients get the best outcomes no matter where they have the operation."

The researchers divided more than 1,000 U.S. hospitals into thirds based on how many colon surgeries were performed at each facility in 2008. They called the top tier "high-volume" hospitals and the bottom tier "low-volume."

The surgeries included operations for colon cancer and for non-cancerous polyps or blockages, for instance.

Three quarters of the 280,000 patients included in the study were operated on at high-volume hospitals. They tended to be younger, have higher incomes and have private insurance more often than their low-volume counterparts.

Less than half of all patients had complications following surgery, regardless of where they were treated.

At busier hospitals, 86 percent of colon surgery patients were discharged straight home, compared to 76 percent of those treated at less busy hospitals.

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