Poorly controlled acute pain during the postoperative setting after abdominal surgery can be detrimental to the patient. Current pain management practices for the postoperative abdominal surgery patient rely heavily on opioids, which are associated with many unwanted side effects. Recently, interest surrounding regional anesthesia has been growing owing to its demonstrated efficacy and safety outcomes. More specifically, the transversus abdominis plane (TAP) block procedure has attracted attention owing to its ability to successfully block peripheral pain signaling in the abdomen, its ease of use, few complications, and its greater acceptability. A majority of the studies published has demonstrated the successful reduction in pain in many abdominal surgical procedures using local anesthetics during the TAP block. However, the short duration of the pain block causes the patient to still rely on other analgesics throughout the additional postoperative days. Preliminary studies using continuous infusion catheters placed in the TAP has been one of the ways to prolong the nerve block in the abdomen; however, technical and operational issues currently limit the widespread adoption of this method. In this review, current studies will be presented and summarized to update the field on the potential benefits of the TAP block procedure, in addition to providing insight into the future direction of the drugs that could be used for TAP block.
© 2012 The Authors. Pain Practice © 2012 World Institute of Pain.