Opioid utilization in minimally invasive versus open inguinal hernia repair

Ariel W. Knight, Elizabeth B. Habermann, Daniel S. Ubl, Martin D. Zielinski, Cornelius A. Thiels

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: Open inguinal hernia repair is thought to cause worse postoperative pain than minimally invasive surgery, and thus patients are often prescribed more opioids at discharge. This study evaluates opioid use in inguinal hernia repair patients to optimize discharge prescribing practices for this common procedure. Methods: Opioid-naive adults undergoing open or minimally invasive surgery inguinal hernia repair were identified prospectively from 3 centers to complete a 29-question telephone interview after discharge as part of a larger initiative. Opioid prescription and consumption data were converted into morphine milligram equivalents and compared between minimally invasive surgery and open inguinal hernia repair. Univariate χ2, Fisher exact test, univariate, and multivariable logistic regression were used. Results: Of 249 contacted patients, 195 (74%) completed the survey (n = 97 open, n = 98 minimally invasive surgery). Patients undergoing open inguinal hernia repair were slightly older (71 vs 65 years, P <.001) and less likely to be female (3% vs 17%, P =.001) than minimally invasive surgery patients. Open patients were more likely to have a unilateral inguinal hernia repair (95% open vs 52% minimally invasive surgery, P <.001). Discharge pain scores using the 10-point, patient-reported Numeric Pain Rating scale were similar (open 2.3 ± 1.7 vs minimally invasive surgery 2.4 ± 1.6; P =.80), and most patients were satisfied with postoperative pain control (open 86% vs minimally invasive surgery 95%; P =.13). Open inguinal hernia repair patients were just as likely to receive opioids at discharge as those undergoing minimally invasive surgery inguinal hernia repair (98% vs 91% minimally invasive surgery; P =.06) and were prescribed similar amounts of opioids (open 155 [IQR 113, 225] morphine milligram equivalents vs 150 [IQR 100, 210] minimally invasive surgery; P =.08). There was no difference in opioid use by approach (open 15 [IQR 0, 60] morphine milligram equivalents vs 9 [IQR 0, 50] minimally invasive surgery; P =.33). More than one-third of patients used no opioids (open 38% vs minimally invasive surgery 44%; P =.42). Bilateral repair was not associated with increased opioid use (univariate odds ratio 1.23, P =.58). On multivariable analysis, low discharge pain and normal body mass index were independently associated with needing no opioids at discharge. Overall, 75% of prescribed opioids remained unused at time of survey, yet only 12% of patients had disposed of unused opioids at the time of survey. Conclusion: Postdischarge opioid utilization was clinically similar between patients undergoing open and minimally invasive surgery inguinal hernia repair and those requiring unilateral or bilateral repair. Given that more than one-third of patients required no opioids after discharge, 0 to 8 tablets of 5 mg oxycodone is sufficient for most opioid-naive patients undergoing inguinal hernia repair.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)752-757
Number of pages6
JournalSurgery (United States)
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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