Length of Stay and Opioid Dose Requirement with Transversus Abdominis Plane Block vs Epidural Analgesia for Ventral Hernia Repair

J Am Coll Surg. 2019 Apr;228(4):680-686. doi: 10.1016/j.jamcollsurg.2018.12.017. Epub 2019 Jan 8.


Background: Major abdominal operations often requires postoperative opioid analgesia. However, there is growing recognition of the potential for abuse. We previously reported a significant reduction in opioid consumption after implementation of an Enhanced Recovery after Surgery protocol after ventral hernia repair focusing on opioid reduction. Epidural use was routine for postoperative pain control in this protocol. Recently, we have transitioned to transversus abdominis plane (TAP) block instead of epidural analgesia. We hypothesize that this modification reduces length of stay and lowers opioid use in ventral hernia repair.

Methods: All patients undergoing open ventral hernia repair were recorded prospectively in the Americas Hernia Society Quality Collaborative database. All patients receiving either TAP or epidural between February 2015 and March 2018 were identified. Additional review was performed to quantify opioid use in morphine milligram equivalents (MMEs). Primary outcomes were length of stay and opioid use.

Results: Epidural was used in 172 patients and TAP block in 74. There were no significant comorbidity differences between groups. The TAP group had a slightly higher BMI (33.6 kg/m2 vs 28.3 kg/m2) and slightly smaller hernias (8.8 cm vs 10.8 cm). There was no difference in 30-day surgical site infections. Hospital length of stay was significantly shorter with TAP block (2.4 vs 4.5 days; p < 0.001). Total MME requirements for patients receiving TAP block were lower than those with epidural during postoperative days 1 and 2 (mean 40 vs 54.1 MMEs; p = 0.033 and 36.1 vs 52.5 MMEs; p = 0.018).

Conclusions: Use of TAP block significantly reduces length of stay and decreases opioid dose requirements in the early postoperative period compared with epidural analgesia.

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Muscles / innervation
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Analgesia, Epidural*
  • Analgesics, Opioid / administration & dosage*
  • Analgesics, Opioid / therapeutic use
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Enhanced Recovery After Surgery
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Hernia, Ventral / surgery*
  • Herniorrhaphy*
  • Humans
  • Length of Stay / statistics & numerical data*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nerve Block* / methods
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / etiology
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / prevention & control
  • Pain, Postoperative / drug therapy
  • Pain, Postoperative / prevention & control*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Analgesics, Opioid