Transversus Abdominis Plane (TAP) Blocks for Surgery
A transversus abdominis plane (TAP) block numbs the nerves on the front of the stomach after
the nerves have left the spinal cord. Under ultrasound help, the anesthesia doctor injects
numbing medicine in between the layers of muscle in your stomach. The front of your stomach
should become numb from the TAP block. Even though this is a one-time injection, the
numbness and pain relief should last between 12-24 hours.
When is a TAP block performed?
A TAP block can be done for patients having surgery involving the stomach wall. These
surgeries could be a hysterectomy, hernia repair, or kidney surgery. When a patient is not able to
have an epidural, a TAP block may be another choice. Depending on the length and type of
surgery, a TAP block can be done before or after surgery. Your anesthesia doctor will talk about
the risks and benefits of a TAP block with you.
Is the pain control as good as an epidural?
A TAP block is usually a one-time injection and a catheter is not placed. A TAP will start to
wear off after 12-24 hours. With an epidural, the numbing medicine and pain control will last a
number of days. This is because of the steady release of medicine through a catheter. The
numbness from a TAP block may not be as dense or complete as numbness from an epidural.
What are the risks of a TAP block?
TAP blocks are very safe. There is a very small risk of bleeding or infection from the TAP
block. Patients who cannot have epidurals because of blood thinning medicines or bleeding
disorders may be able to have a TAP block. In rare cases, an accidental injection of numbing
medicine could go into a blood vessel during a TAP block. This could have serious effects on
your heart. Accidental puncturing of the bowel with the needle used for the TAP block would be
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is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each
person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using
this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright ©4/2015. University of Wisconsin Hospitals
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