Purpose: Recovery protocols aim to limit narcotic administration following ventral hernia repair (VHR). However, little is known about the contribution of a protocol’s individual components on patient outcomes. We previously reported that surgeon-performed transversus abdominis plane block (TAP-block) is more effective than ultrasound-guided TAP-block following VHR. This study evaluates the effectiveness of two postoperative analgesia modalities: epidural catheter and surgeon-performed TAP-block following VHR performed with transversus abdominis release (TAR). Methods: A retrospective analysis was performed on data prospectively collected between 2012 and 2019. All patients undergoing open VHR with TAR performed by a single surgeon were identified. Parastomal hernia repairs and any patients receiving ultrasound-guided TAP blocks or paraspinal blocks were excluded. Primary outcome was length of stay (LOS) with secondary outcomes including pain scores, opioid requirements, and 30-day morbidity. Linear regression was used to model LOS. Results: One hundred thirty-five patients met inclusion criteria (63 epidural, 72 TAP-block). The majority (67.4%) of patients were modified ventral hernia working group grade 2. The only statistically significant difference in postoperative pain scores between the groups was on postoperative day 2 (TAP block 3.19 versus epidural 4.11, p = 0.0126). LOS was significantly shorter in the TAP block group (4.7 versus 6.2 days, p = 0.0023) as was time to regular diet (3.2 versus 4.7 days, p < 0.0001). After controlling for confounders, epidural was associated with increased LOS by 1.3 days (p = 0.0004). Conclusion: Epidural use following VHR with TAR is associated with increased LOS and increased time to regular diet without reducing pain or opioid use when compared to surgeon-performed TAP block.
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