Inguinal hernia repair
Anesthesia type General vs. Spinal vs. Local
Airway ETT vs. LMA for GA
Lines and access Peripheral IV
Monitors Standard ASA / 5-Lead EKG
Primary anesthetic considerations
Intraoperative RSI if urgent/emergent
Postoperative PONV, urinary retention

Inguinal hernia repair is performed to fix a defect in the abdominal wall that allows abdominal contents to protrude into the inguinal canal, and it is one of the most commonly performed surgeries worldwide. This procedure is commonly performed laparoscopically, especially in patients with recurrent or bilateral hernias, but can be performed open as well.[1] The anesthetic technique ranges from local to spinal to general anesthesia.

Preoperative management

Patient evaluation

Adult patients presenting for inguinal hernia repair are usually healthy and this procedure is typically performed in the outpatient setting. However, this surgery can be emergent in cases of hernia incarceration or strangulation, usually requiring an open procedure.

System Considerations
Cardiovascular Strangulation of hernia may result in hypotension, tachycardia
Gastrointestinal In cases of strangulation, patients may be dehydrated from fever and emesis
Hematologic In cases of strangulation, patient may have leukocytosis/leukopenia
Labs Hb/Hct for healthy patients, otherwise as indicated from H&P

Operating room setup

  • The choice of anesthetic technique ranges from local infiltration to spinal to general. For a patient with no existing comorbidities, the decision can be based on the complexity of the anatomy, expected duration, surgeon preference, and/or patient preference. Studies have found no difference between spinal vs GA (with LMA) in early or late outcomes[2].

Patient preparation and premedication

  • Midazolam
  • Tylenol 1g

Intraoperative management

Monitoring and access

  • Standard ASA monitors
  • 5-lead EKG
  • 1 peripheral IV
  • Consider:
    • Urinary catheter
    • OG tube

Induction and airway management

  • If general, ETT vs. LMA
    • ETT with RSI if urgency does not allow appropriate NPO


  • Supine, arms tucked

Maintenance and surgical considerations

  • Standard maintenance
    • Consider avoiding nitrous oxide given potential for bowel dissension and increased risk of PONV
  • Place OG/NG before surgical incision to decompress the stomach
  • Maintain normovolemia and normothermia


  • Avoid nitrous until after abdomen is de-insufflated
  • PONV prophylaxis

Postoperative management


  • PACU/holding area for 1-2h followed by discharge home

Pain management

  • Oral analgesics
  • Non-opioid analgesics
    • Ketoralac (Toradol)
    • Acetaminophen (Tylenol)
  • IV narcotics for breakthrough pain

Potential complications

  • PONV
  • Urinary retention (consider straight catheterization of bladder prior to emergence)
  • Hemorrhage from trocar insertion
  • Subcutaneous emphysema from pneumoperitoneum

Procedure variants

Open Laparoscopic Local/MAC
Unique considerations Preferred for recurrent or bilateral hernias Surgeon performed blocks/local infiltration

Generally surgeon-specific and elective cases with appropriate patients.

Position Supine Supine, arms tucked Supine, arms out
Surgical time 1-2h 1-2h
EBL <50mL <50mL
Postoperative disposition PACU 1-2h in PACU > home PACU
Pain score 3-4
Potential complications Recurrence of hernia

Orchalgia, neuralgia

Bowel obstruction

Bladder injury (rare)


  1. Jaffe, Richard A; Schmiesing, Clifford A; Golianu, Brenda (2014). Anesthesiologist's manual of surgical procedures. ISBN 978-1-4963-0594-7. OCLC 888551588.
  2. Burney, Richard E. (2004-02-01). "Comparison of Spinal vs General Anesthesia via Laryngeal Mask Airway in Inguinal Hernia Repair". Archives of Surgery. 139 (2): 183. doi:10.1001/archsurg.139.2.183. ISSN 0004-0010.