Opioid Use After Inguinal and Ventral Hernia Repair

Am Surg. 2020 Aug;86(8):965-970. doi: 10.1177/0003134820942179. Epub 2020 Aug 11.


Background: Recent data on opioid consumption indicate that patients typically require far less than is prescribed. Prisma Health Upstate Hernia Center adopted standardized postoperative prescribing after hernia repair and began tracking patient-reported opioid utilization. The aim of this study is to evaluate patient opioid use after hernia repair in order to guide future prescribing.

Methods: All patients who underwent primary ventral (umbilical and epigastric), incisional, and inguinal hernia repair between February and May 2019 were reviewed. Patients reported the number of opioid pills taken at their first postoperative visit and documented either in the progress note or in the Americas Hernia Society Quality Collaborative (AHSQC) patient-reported outcomes (PRO) questionnaire. All demographic, operative, and outcomes data were captured prospectively in the AHSQC. Opioid use reported as milligram morphine equivalents (MME).

Results: A total of 162 surgeries were performed during the study period, and 107 had patient-reported opioid use for analysis. Inguinal hernia repair was performed in 36 patients, 10 primary ventral hernia repairs, and 61 incisional hernia repairs. No opioid use was reported in 63.9% of inguinal hernias, 60% of primary ventral hernias, and 20% of incisional hernias. Inguinal hernia patients consumed a mean of 10.5 MME, primary ventral patients 11 MME, and incisional hernia patients 78.5 MME.

Conclusion: Patients require little to no opioid after primary ventral or inguinal hernia repair and opioid-free surgery is feasible. Incisional hernia is more heterogenous, but the majority of patients still required less opioid than previously thought.

Keywords: hernia repair; opioid; post operative MME.

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics, Opioid / therapeutic use*
  • Clinical Protocols
  • Drug Utilization / statistics & numerical data*
  • Hernia, Inguinal / surgery*
  • Hernia, Ventral / surgery*
  • Herniorrhaphy*
  • Humans
  • Inappropriate Prescribing / prevention & control
  • Inappropriate Prescribing / trends
  • Pain, Postoperative / drug therapy*
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / trends*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Self Report
  • United States


  • Analgesics, Opioid