Transversus Abdominis Plane (TAP) Block

A transversus abdominis plane (TAP) block is a technique used to inject anesthesia into a space in your abdominal muscles on your side. This will block the nerves from sending any pain
signals from your incision and help control pain after surgery.

During the procedure

  • You will lie on your back.
  • The sides of your abdomen will be carefully cleaned.
  • The anesthesiologist will numb your skin. 
  • Once your skin is numb, the anesthesiologist will use ultrasound to help guide a needle into a space in your abdominal muscles on your side.
  • After the needle is inserted, anesthesia is injected in the space.
  • After the anesthesia is injected, the needle is removed.

After the procedure

You may receive other pain medicines in addition to the TAP block. Your anesthesiologist will prescribe what is right for you.

Benefits

Using a TAP block will allow you to:

  • have better pain control
  • be up walking sooner after your surgery
  • be able to eat a regular diet sooner after surgery
  • be less sedated so you can take an active role in your recovery

Risks

Risks of a TAP block may include:

  • infection at the insertion site (where the needle enters your body)
  • temporary numbness
  • reaction to the anesthesia
  • anesthesia injected into a blood vessel instead of the muscle

These risks are rare. Your anesthesiologist will talk with you about these risks on the day of your surgery.

Other information

  • You will be given a sedation medicine before the TAP block is placed to help you feel comfortable during the procedure.
  • A pulse oximeter sensor will be placed on your finger before doing the TAP block. The sensor will record the amount of oxygen in your blood.
  • The nurses will watch you closely during and after the medicine is given.

When to call your nurse

Call for a nurse if you have:

  • severe pain
  • a rapid, racing heartbeat
  • ringing in your ears
  • a metallic taste in your mouth

Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Understanding Your Colon or Rectal Surgery, can-ah-95399
First Published: 01/24/2013
Last Reviewed: 08/15/2017

Important
A TAP block is often done after you receive general anesthesia. This means you will not be aware when this procedure is done.