Determination of spread of injectate after ultrasound-guided transversus abdominis plane block: A cadaveric study

T. M.N. Tran, J. J. Ivanusic, P. Hebbard, M. J. Barrington

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

249 Scopus citations


Background. The transversus abdominis plane (TAP) block is a new regional anaesthesia technique that provides analgesia after abdominal surgery. It involves injection of local anaesthetic into the plane between the transversus abdominis and the internal oblique muscles. The TAP block can be performed using a landmark technique through the lumbar triangle or with ultrasound guidance. The goal of this anatomical study with dye injection into the TAP and subsequent cadaver dissections was to establish the likely spread of local anaesthesia in vivo and the segmental nerve involvement resulting from ultrasound-guided TAP block. Methods. An ultrasound-guided injection of aniline dye into the TAP was performed for each hemi-abdominal wall of 10 unembalmed human cadavers and this was followed by dissection to determine the extent of dye spread and nerve involvement in the dye injection. Results. After excluding one pilot specimen and one with advanced tissue decomposition, 16 hemi-abdominal walls were successfully injected and dissected. The lower thoracic nerves (T10-T12) and first lumbar nerve (L1) were found emerging from posterior to anterior between the costal margin and the iliac crest. Segmental nerves T10, T11, T12, and L1 were involved in the dye in 50%, 100%, 100%, and 93% of cases, respectively. Conclusions. This anatomical study shows that an ultrasound-guided TAP injection cephalad to the iliac crest is likely to involve the T10-L1 nerve roots, and implies that the technique may be limited to use in lower abdominal surgery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)123-127
Number of pages5
JournalBritish journal of anaesthesia
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Anaesthetic techniques, regional

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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