Inhalational or total intravenous anaesthesia: is total intravenous anaesthesia useful and are there economic benefits?
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PURPOSE OF REVIEW: The comparison of inhalational and intravenous anaesthesia has been the subject of many controlled trials and meta-analyses. These reported diverse endpoints typically including measures of the speed and quality of induction of anaesthesia, haemodynamic changes, operating conditions, various measures of awakening, postoperative nausea and vomiting and discharge from the recovery area and from hospital as well as recovery of psychomotor function. In a more patient-focused Health Service, measures with greater credibility are overall patient satisfaction, time to return to work and long-term morbidity and mortality. In practice, studies using easier to measure proxy endpoints dominate - even though the limitations of such research are well known. RECENT FINDINGS: Recent study endpoints are more ambitious and include impact on survival from cancer and the possibility of differential neurotoxic impact on the developing brain and implications for neuro-behavioural performance. SUMMARY: Economic analysis of anaesthesia is complex and most published studies are naive, focusing on drug acquisition costs and facility timings, real health economics are much more difficult. Preferred outcome measures would be whole institution costs or the ability to reliably add an extra case to an operating list, close an operating room and reduce the number of operating sessions offered or permanently decrease staffing. Alongside this, however, potential long-term patient outcomes should be considered.
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