Background: A better understanding of the analgesia needs of patients who undergo common operative procedures is necessary as we address the growing opioid public health crisis in the United States. The aim of this study was to evaluate patient experience with our opioid prescribing practice after elective inguinal hernia repairs.
Methods: A prospective, observational study was conducted between October 1, 2015, and September 30, 2016, in a single-surgeon, high-volume, practice of inguinal hernia operation. Adult patients undergoing elective inguinal herniorrhaphy under local anesthesia with intravenous sedation were invited to participate. All patients were prescribed 10 opioid analgesic tablets postoperatively and were counseled to reserve opioids for pain not controlled by nonopioid analgesics. Their experience was captured by completing a questionnaire 2 to 3 weeks postoperatively during their postoperative visit.
Results: A total of 185 patients were surveyed. The majority of the participants were males (177, 95.7%) and ≥60 years old (96, 51.9%). Of the 185 patients, 159 (85.9%) reported using ≤4 opioid tablets; 110 patients (59.5%) reported that they used no opioid analgesics postoperatively. None of the patients was taking opioids within 7 days of their postoperative appointment. Of the 147 patients who were employed, 111 (75.5%) reported missing ≤3 work days, 57 of whom (51.4%) missed no work at all. Patients who were employed were more likely to take opioid analgesics postoperatively (P = .049). Patients who took no opioid analgesics experienced less maximum (P < .001) and persistent groin pain (P = .037). Pain interfered less with daily activities (P = .012) and leisure activities (P = .018) for patients who did not use opioids.
Conclusion: The majority of our patients reported that they did not require any opioid analgesics, and nearly all of those who thought that they did need opioids used <5 tablets. Our data suggest that for elective inguinal hernia repair under a local anesthetic with intravenous sedation, a policy of low opioid analgesic prescribing is achievable; these findings call for further investigation of how to best prescribe opioid medications to patients after an inguinal herniorrhaphy.
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