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Br J Anaesth. 2012 Nov;109(5):679-87. doi: 10.1093/bja/aes279. Epub 2012 Aug 19.

Transversus abdominis plane block for postoperative analgesia after Caesarean delivery performed under spinal anaesthesia? A systematic review and meta-analysis.

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Division of Obstetrical Anesthesia, Department of Anesthesia, Obstetrical Anesthesia Research Unit, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


The transversus abdominis plane (TAP) block is a field block that provides postoperative analgesia for abdominal surgery. Its analgesic utility after Caesarean delivery (CD) remains controversial. This systematic review and meta-analysis examines whether TAP block can reduce i.v. morphine consumption in the first 24 h after CD. The authors retrieved randomized controlled trials comparing TAP block with placebo in CD. Postoperative i.v. morphine consumption during the first 24 h was selected as a primary outcome. Pain scores and both maternal and neonatal opioid-related side-effects were secondary outcomes. Where possible, meta-analytic techniques and random effects modelling were used to combine data. Trials were stratified based on whether or not spinal morphine was used as part of the analgesic regimen. Five trials including 312 patients were identified. TAP block reduced the mean 24 h i.v. morphine consumption by 24 mg [95% confidence interval (CI) -39.65 to -7.78] when spinal morphine was not used. TAP block also reduced visual analogue scale pain scores (10 cm line where 0 cm, no pain, and 10 cm, worst pain) by 0.8 cm (95% CI -1.53 to -0.05, P=0.01), and decreased the incidence of opioid-related side-effects. The differences in primary and secondary outcomes were not significant when spinal morphine was used. TAP block provides superior analgesia compared with placebo and can reduce the first 24 h morphine consumption in the setting of a multimodal analgesic regimen that excludes spinal morphine. TAP block can provide effective analgesia when spinal morphine is contraindicated or not used.

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