The transversus abdominis plane block, when used as part of a multimodal regimen inclusive of intrathecal morphine, does not improve analgesia after cesarean delivery

Joseph F Costello, Albert R Moore, Paul M Wieczorek, Alison J Macarthur, Mrinalini Balki, Jose C A Carvalho
Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine 2009, 34 (6): 586-9

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: The transversus abdominis plane (TAP) block has been shown to provide analgesia for lower abdominal wall incisions. We evaluated the efficacy of the TAP block for post-cesarean delivery (CD) patients used as a part of a multimodal regimen.

METHODS: Women undergoing elective CD under spinal anesthesia were randomized to receive the TAP block with ropivacaine (n = 50) or placebo (n = 50), in addition to a standard postoperative analgesic regimen inclusive of intrathecal opioids. At the end of the surgical procedure, all the patients received bilateral TAP blocks under real-time ultrasound guidance, with either 20 mL of ropivacaine 0.375% or saline, on each side. Each patient was assessed at 6, 12, 24, and 48 hrs postoperatively, and again 6 weeks after the surgical procedure. The primary outcome was the difference in visual analog scale pain scores with movement at 24 hrs postpartum. Other outcomes assessed were analgesic consumption, maternal satisfaction, and incidence of adverse effects.

RESULTS: One hundred women were recruited, and 96 completed the study. The mean (SD) visual analog scale pain scores on movement at 24 hrs were not different between the ropivacaine and placebo groups (3.4 [2.4] and 3.2 [2.2] cm, respectively, P = 0.47). The pain scores at other times, and the supplemental opioid consumption, were also similar between the 2 groups. The overall incidence of pain at 6 weeks postpartum was 8.3%.

CONCLUSIONS: The TAP block, when used as part of a multimodal regimen inclusive of intrathecal morphine, does not improve the quality of post-CD analgesia.

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