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 2 layers of abdominal muscles, the internal oblique and the deeper transversus abdominis muscle.
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.
Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:
Side effects from the anesthesia
Factors that may increase the risk of complications include:
Active infection at the site of the injection
Allergy to local anesthetics
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
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.
A local anesthetic will be used to numb the area where the needle will be inserted.
Description of the Procedure
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?
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.
At the Care Center
When your procedure is complete, you will spend time in a recovery area where your vital signs will be monitored.
When you return home, follow your doctor’s instructions.
Call Your Doctor
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.
Urigel S, Molter J. Transversus abdominis plane (TAP) blocks. American Association of Nurse Anesthetists website. Available at: http://www.aana.com/newsandjournal/Documents/jcourse-0214-p73-79.pdf. Published February 2014. Accessed September 7, 2017.
Young M, Gorlin A, et al. Clinical implications of the transversus abdominis plane block in adults. Anesthesiol Res Pract. 2012;2012:731645. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3270549. Accessed September 7, 2017.
Last reviewed September 2018 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
James P. Cornell, MD
Last Last updated: 11/18/2016
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