Transversus Abdominis Plane Block (TAP)

A transversus abdominis plane block, also called TAP, is a type of injection that numbs the nerves on the front of the abdominal wall. A TAP is done to decrease pain caused by nerve irritation and swelling in that area.

The numbing medicine used is either a local anesthetic or a combination of a local anesthetic and a steroid. 

The medicine is placed between the layers of muscles in your abdomen, which are the muscles that you use to do a sit-up.  

A TAP may be done as a one-time injection, or a catheter (small plastic tube) may be left in place to give the medicine for several days.    

This procedure may be done in the office or in the operating room (OR). If done in the OR, your child will be asleep during the procedure.  You will get instructions on when your child needs to stop eating and drinking before the procedure and also when to arrive.

If done in the office, your child will be awake during the procedure. 

Here is what will happen during a TAP:

  • The belly area is cleaned with a special soap.
  • An ultrasound machine will help find the right place to inject the medicine. 
  • The medicine is injected through a needle.  You may get medicine on both sides of your abdomen.
  • After getting the medicine, you can sit up and can go home shortly afterwards.

If we leave a catheter in place, it will be taped to your belly and connected to a pump, which will deliver the medicine.  Patients who have the catheter left in place are often in the hospital as most have had surgery. 

Removing the catheter is not painful. A simple tug and the catheter comes out easily. Many patients say it feels like a pulling sensation.  

If you go home with the catheter, you will get special instructions on how to remove the catheter.    

The local anesthetic we inject works within 20 minutes, but is short lasting (up to six to eight hours, similar to the numbing effect you have after a dental procedure).  

You may not notice the pain relief from the steroid until about 48 hours after the procedure. It takes longer for the medicine to begin to work, but it lasts longer than the local anesthetic. 

You may find that you have mild soreness from the injection sites for a couple of days.  Acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) should help relieve this soreness.  

You will be scheduled for a follow-up in two to three weeks after the procedure.  If the procedure was done in the OR, we will give you special instructions. 

You will be able to return to school the following day. Any activity limitations will be given on an individual basis. 

  • You see bleeding at the site
  • There is an increase in pain
  • There are any signs of infection such as:
    • Swelling at site
    • Redness at site
    • Fever greater than 100.6 degrees

Last Updated 07/2013