Transversus Abdominis Plane Block

(TAP Block)

Trans-ver-suss Abb-domm-in-us Plane Block

Definition

A transversus abdominis plane (TAP) block is a form of anesthesia that numbs the front of the abdominal wall. The medication is injected over nerves that lie between two layers of abdominal muscles, the internal oblique and the deeper transversus abdominis muscle.

Abdominal Area

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Reasons for Procedure    TOP

A TAP block is done to numb the upper and lower abdomen. After a TAP block, you should no longer be able to feel the pain associated with abdominal, gynecological, and urological procedures and surgeries.

There are many different options for anesthesia. You and your doctor can discuss the risks and benefits of each one before treatment. Anesthesia from TAP can continue to provide pain relief after the surgery is complete which may decrease the need for opioid medication after surgery. Opioids, while effective for pain relief, can cause uncomfortable side effects like nausea, vomiting, and constipation.

Possible Complications    TOP

Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:

  • Bleeding
  • Side effects from the anesthesia
  • Infection

Factors that may increase the risk of complications include:

  • Active infection at the site of the injection
  • Allergy to local anesthetics

What to Expect    TOP

Prior to Procedure

Your doctor may do the following:

  • Physical exam
  • Blood tests

Leading up to your procedure:

  • Ask your doctor whether you are able to eat before the procedure.
  • Arrange to have someone drive you to and from the procedure.
  • Arrange for help at home after your procedure.
  • Talk to your doctor about your medications. You may be asked to stop taking some medications up to 1 week before the procedure.

Anesthesia

A local anesthetic will be used to numb the area where the needle will be inserted.

Description of the Procedure    TOP

The area will be numbed with a local anesthetic medication. A needle will be inserted in the front of the abdomen just below the ribcage or to the side between the ribs and the pelvis. An ultrasound will be used to help the doctor find the best place to insert the needle. The ultrasound will also let the doctor know when it is in the correct place. Once it is in the right position, the anesthesia medication will be injected and the needle will be removed.

How Long Will It Take?    TOP

The procedure will take only a few minutes but the block will take an hour to reach full effect.

Will It Hurt?    TOP

The injection may burn or sting for a few seconds. After that, you should not feel pain.

Post-procedure Care    TOP

At the Care Center

When your procedure is complete, you will spend time in a recovery area where your vital signs will be monitored.

At Home

When you return home, follow your doctor’s instructions.

Call Your Doctor    TOP

Call your doctor if any of these occur:

  • Signs of infection, including fever and chills
  • Redness, swelling, increasing pain, bleeding, or discharge from the injection site
  • Shortness of breath or chest pain

If you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.

RESOURCES

American Association of Nurse Anesthetists
http://www.aana.com
American Society of Anesthesiologists
https://www.asahq.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Canada Anesthesiologists’ Society
https://www.cas.ca

References:

Craig R. Transversus abdominis plane block. European Society for Paediatric Anaesthesiology website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Accessed June 30, 2016.
Urigel S, Molter J. Transversus abdominis plane (TAP) blocks. American Association of Nurse Anesthetists website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Published February 2014. Accessed June 30, 2016.
Young M, Gorlin A, et al. Clinical implications of the transversus abdominis plane block in adults. Anesthesiol Res Pract. 2012;2012:731645. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Accessed June 30, 2016.
Last reviewed October 2016 by James Cornell, MD
Last Last updated: 11/18/2016

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