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Anesth Analg. 2005 Mar;100(3):786-94, table of contents.

A retrospective comparison of costs for regional and general anesthesia techniques.

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Department of Anesthesiology, University Hospital Hamburg-Eppendorf, Martinistrasse 52, 20246 Hamburg, Germany.


In this retrospective study, we compared the costs for three different regional anesthesia techniques with the costs of general anesthesia (GA). A total of 1587 anesthesia cases which were performed for orthopedic and trauma patients over a 1-yr period in a tertiary level, university hospital setting were analyzed. The anesthesia technique-related costs were determined calculating case-specific costs for personnel, supplies, and drugs. The techniques were compared on the basis of anesthesia costs and surgical procedure duration. As a result, we found that the costs per surgical minute largely depend on the surgical procedure duration. Based on the regression function, the cost advantage of spinal anesthesia over GA can be estimated to be 13% for a 50-min case, 9% for a 100-min case, and 5% for a 200-min case. The cost disadvantage of brachial plexus anesthesia over GA can be estimated to be 19% for a 50-min case, 8% in a 100-min case, and 1% for a 200-min case. We found no difference in costs between epidural and GA. We concluded that cost comparisons of anesthesia techniques largely depend on the surgical duration of the cases studied. Even in a teaching hospital setting, spinal anesthesia has economic advantages over GA. Especially for short cases, brachial plexus block is more expensive in this setting.

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