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.
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Reasons for Procedure
A TAP block is done to numb the upper and lower abdomen. After a TAP block, a person should not be able to feel pain during abdominal, gynecological, and urological procedures and surgeries. This can also continue to provide pain relief after the surgery is complete. This may lower the need for prescription pain relievers.
Problems are rare, but all procedures have some risk. The doctor will go over some problems that could happen, such as:
- Excess bleeding
Problems from anesthesia, such as wheezing or sore throat
People who have an infection at the injection site may be at greater risk of problems.
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
The care team may meet with you to talk about:
- Anesthesia options
Any allergies you may have
- Current medicines, herbs, and supplements that you take and whether you need to stop taking them before the injection
- Fasting before the procedure, such as avoiding food or drink after midnight the night before
- Whether you need a ride to and from the procedure
Local anesthetic will be used. The area will be numb.
Description of the Procedure
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 locate the best place to insert the needle. The ultrasound will also let the doctor know when it is in the correct place. Then, the anesthesia medication will be injected and the needle will be removed.
How Long Will It Take?
The procedure will take only a few minutes, but the block will take an hour to reach full effect.
Will It Hurt?
The injection may burn or sting for a few seconds. After that, you should not feel pain.
Average Hospital Stay
How long you stay depends on why you needed the injection.
At the Care Center
The staff will monitor you after the injection.
The injection site will not need further care. Home care will depend on the reason the injection was given.
Call Your Doctor
Call the doctor if you are not getting better or you have:
- Signs of infection, such as fever and chills
- Redness, swelling, increasing pain, bleeding, or discharge from the injection site
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
If you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.
How I do it: TAP block. American Society of Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine website. Available at: https://www.asra.com/guidelines-articles/how-i-do-it/legacy-b-blog-posts/2019/08/07/how-i-do-it-tap-block. Accessed August 19, 2021.
Truncal Perioperative nerve blocks. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/procedure/truncal-perioperative-nerve-blocks. Accessed August 19, 2021.
Last reviewed July 2021 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
James Cornell, MD
Last Updated: 8/19/2021