Background: Inguinal hernia repair is the most common general surgery procedure and can be performed under local or general anesthesia. We hypothesized that using local rather than general anesthesia would improve outcomes, especially for older adults. Methods: This is a retrospective review of 97,437 patients in the Veterans Affairs Surgical Quality Improvement Program who had open inguinal hernia surgery under local or general anesthesia. Outcomes included 30-day postoperative complications, operative time, and recovery time. Results: Our cohort included 22,333 (23%) Veterans who received local and 75,104 (77%) who received general anesthesia. Mean age was 62 years. Local anesthesia was associated with a 37% decrease in the odds of postoperative complications (95% CI 0.54–0.73), a 13% decrease in operative time (95% CI 17.5–7.5), and a 27% shorter recovery room stay (95% CI 27.5–25.5), regardless of age. Conclusions: Using local rather than general anesthesia is associated with a profound decrease in complications (equivalent to “de-aging” patients by 30 years) and could significantly reduce costs for this common procedure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)902-907
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican journal of surgery
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2021


  • Elderly
  • General anesthesia
  • Inguinal hernia
  • Local anesthesia
  • Veterans

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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