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Cost control in anesthesia is no longer an option; it is a necessity. New anesthetics have entered the market, but economic differences in comparison to standard anesthetic regimens are not exactly known. Eighty patients undergoing either subtotal thyroidectomy or laparoscopic cholecystectomy were randomly divided into four groups, with 20 patients in each group. Group 1 received propofol 1%/sufentanil, Group 2 received desflurane/sufentanil, Group 3 received sevoflurane/sufentanil, and Group 4 received isoflurane/sufentanil (standard anesthesia) for anesthesia. A fresh gas flow of 1.5-2 L/min and 60% N2O in oxygen was used for maintenance of anesthesia, and atracurium was given for muscle relaxation. Concentrations of volatile anesthetics, propofol, and sufentanil were varied according to the patient's perceived need. Isoflurane, desflurane, and sevoflurane consumption was measured by weighing the vaporizers with a precision weighing machine. Biometric data, time of surgery, and time of anesthesia were similar in the four groups. Times for extubation and stay in the postanesthesia care unit (PACU) were significantly longer in the isoflurane group. Use of sufentanil and atracurium did not differ among the groups. Propofol patients required fewer additional drugs in the PACU (e.g., antiemetics), and thus showed the lowest additional costs in the PACU. Total (intra- and postoperative) costs were significantly higher in the propofol group ($30.73 per patient; $0.24 per minute of anesthesia). The costs among the inhalational groups did not differ significantly (approximately $0.15 per minute of anesthesia). We conclude that in today's climate of cost savings, a comprehensive pharmacoeconomic approach is needed. Although propofol-based anesthesia was associated with the highest cost, it is doubtful whether the choice of anesthetic regimen will lower the costs of an anesthesia department.Cost analysis of anesthetic techniques is necessary in today's economic climate. Consumption of the new inhaled drugs sevoflurane and desflurane was measured in comparison to a standard anesthetic regimen using isoflurane and an IV technique using propofol. Propofol-based anesthesia was associated with the highest costs, whereas the costs of the new inhaled anesthetics sevoflurane and desflurane did not differ from those of a standard, isoflurane-based anesthesia regimen.