New Persistent Opioid Use After Inguinal Hernia Repair

Ann Surg. 2022 Nov 1;276(5):e577-e583. doi: 10.1097/SLA.0000000000004560. Epub 2020 Oct 15.


Objective: To describe the incidence of new persistent opioid use after inguinal hernia repair as well as its associated risk factors.

Summary of background data: The development of new persistent opioid use after surgery is a common complication; however, its incidence following inguinal hernia repair has not been described. Given that roughly 800,000 inguinal hernia repairs are performed annually in the USA, any incidence could have profound implications for patients.

Methods: A retrospective cross-sectional study of the incidence of new persistent opioid use after inguinal hernia repair using a national database of de-identified administrative health claims of opioid-naïve patients undergoing surgery from 2008 to 2016.

Results: During the study period, 59,795 opioid-naïve patients underwent inguinal hernia repair and met inclusion criteria. Mean (SD) age was 57.8 (16.1) years and 55,014 (92%) patients were male. Nine hundred twenty-two (1.5%) patients continued filling opioids prescriptions for at least 3 months after surgery. The most significant risk factor for developing new persistent opioid use after surgery was filling an opioid prescription in the 30 days before surgery (odds ratio 4.34, 95% confidence interval 3.75-5.01). These prescriptions were provided by surgeons in 52% of cases and primary care physicians in 16% of cases. Other risk factors for new persistent opioid use included receiving a larger opioid prescription, having more comorbidities, having a major postoperative complication, and certain mental health disorders and pain disorders.

Conclusions: After undergoing inguinal hernia repair, 1.5% of patients developed new persistent opioid use. Filling an opioid prescription in the 30 days before surgery had the strongest association with this complication.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics, Opioid / therapeutic use
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Hernia, Inguinal* / complications
  • Hernia, Inguinal* / surgery
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Opioid-Related Disorders* / epidemiology
  • Opioid-Related Disorders* / etiology
  • Pain, Postoperative / drug therapy
  • Pain, Postoperative / epidemiology
  • Pain, Postoperative / etiology
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Analgesics, Opioid