What is the Transversus Abdominis?
The Transversus Abdominis is the layer of the anterior and lateral (front and side) abdominal wall.
What is a Transversus Abdominis Plane (TAP) Block?
A Transversus Abdominis Plane (TAP) block is a procedure used for surgical anesthesia as well as for treating chronic pain conditions involving the nerves supplying the abdominal wall. The TAP is a peripheral nerve block used to anesthetize the nerves supplying the abdominal wall. During the procedure a long-acting local anesthetic is placed in between the Transversus Abdominis and internal oblique muscles to block the transmission of pain sensations.
The TAP block procedure is most frequently used in patients when other pain medications or other less invasive therapies are not effective.
Who is a suitable candidate for a TAP Block?
Patients who would benefit from this procedure include those experiencing abdominal pain following abdominal surgeries such as inguinal hernia repairs, multiple laparoscopic procedures or those with scarring of tissue around the nerves that help supply sensation to the anterior abdominal wall.
How is a TAP Block performed?
During this procedure ultrasound guidance is used to visualize the layers of muscle in the anterior abdominal wall. Using sterile technique, the superficial skin is anesthetized and then local anesthetic is injected between the internal oblique and transverse abdominis muscles where the sensory nerves pass. This procedure can be diagnostic so as to help identify the main source of the patient’s pain as well as therapeutic with the goal to treat chronic pain felt in this area of distribution.
What should I expect after the procedure?
The use of ultrasound guidance during this procedure has enabled providers to perform the block with greater accuracy and minimal needle redirection. Typically, patients may feel some minor discomfort at the site of entry of the needle and numbness over the anterolateral aspect of the abdominal wall.
Patients may feel some localized pressure over the area which resolves once the local anesthetic distributes through the fascial plane.
Overall, the patient should feel relief of their abdominal wall pain soon after the procedure with an overall decrease in intensity and frequency of pain on a chronic basis.