Ultrasound-guided transversus abdominis plane block for analgesia after Caesarean delivery

D Belavy, P J Cowlishaw, M Howes, F Phillips
British Journal of Anaesthesia 2009, 103 (5): 726-30

BACKGROUND: The landmark-guided transversus abdominis plane (TAP) block is an effective method of providing postoperative analgesia in patients undergoing lower abdominal surgery. We evaluated the analgesic efficacy of the ultrasound (US)-guided TAP block in patients undergoing Caesarean delivery.

METHODS: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial was performed at a tertiary maternity hospital. Fifty women undergoing Caesarean delivery received bilateral US-guided TAP blocks with either ropivacaine 0.5% or saline. All participants received a spinal anaesthetic with bupivacaine and fentanyl, followed by postoperative acetaminophen, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and patient-controlled i.v. morphine without long-acting intrathecal opioids. Each patient was assessed 24 h after delivery for morphine usage, average pain score, nausea, vomiting, pruritus, drowsiness, and satisfaction with pain relief.

RESULTS: Forty-seven participants completed the trial, 23 in the active group and 24 in the placebo group. Total morphine use in 24 h was reduced in the active group (median 18.0 mg) compared with the placebo group (median 31.5 mg, P<0.05). The active group reported improved satisfaction with their pain relief measured by visual analogue scale compared with the placebo group (median 96 vs 77 mm, P=0.008). Fewer patients required antiemetics in the active group (P=0.03). There were no local complications attributable to the TAP block, but one participant had an anaphylactoid reaction after ropivacaine injection.

CONCLUSIONS: The US-guided TAP block reduces morphine requirements after Caesarean delivery when used as a component of a multimodal analgesic regimen. Registered with the Australia New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12608000540314. URL:

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