The cost of the inpatient stay for a typical aortic valve replacement and for an oesophagectomy were determined by recording and costing every aspect of the patients' care from admission until discharge. This method of cost calculation was found to be satisfactory and could be used by other centres to allow comparisons between hospitals or countries. At St Thomas's Hospital in 1977 the cost of a cardiac operation was 2755 pounds, an oesophagectomy 1870 pounds, and a general surgical operation 564 pounds.
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