Ellen M. Soffin, Carrie Freeman, Alexander P. Hughes, Douglas S. Wetmore, Stavros G. Memtsoudis, Federico P. Girardi, Haoyan Zhong, James D. Beckman

August 2019, Volume 28, Issue 9, pp 2077 - 2086 Original Article Read Full Article 10.1007/s00586-019-06081-3

First Online: 27 July 2019

Effects of a multimodal analgesic pathway with transversus abdominis plane block for lumbar spine fusion: a prospective feasibility trial


Lumbar spine fusion with anterior (ALIF) or lateral (LLIF) approach is a moderately painful procedure associated with significant length of hospital stay (LoS) and opioid requirements. We developed an opioid-sparing analgesic pathway of care for ALIF and LLIF, featuring transversus abdominis plane (TAP) block. In this study, we assessed the feasibility of performing the TAP block as an analgesic adjunct for ALIF or LLIF.


This is a prospective feasibility study of 32 patients. All patients received pre-incisional TAP block, regularly scheduled non-opioid analgesics (gabapentin, acetaminophen, ketorolac), and oral tramadol, as needed. The primary feasibility outcomes were rates of recruitment, adherence and adverse events associated with the TAP block. Secondary outcomes included assessment of TAP block efficacy and duration, numeric rating scale (NRS) pain scores, LoS and opioid consumption.


Thirty-three patients were approached for the study, and all were enrolled. One patient did not have surgery. All patients received the intervention. There were no block-related adverse events. PACU NRS scores were significantly lower (1.9 ± 3.0) than at postoperative day 1 (POD1; 3.3 ± 2.5). The TAP block was effective in 31/32 patients, with 1 failed block. Median LoS was 26.8 h (IQR 22.8–49.5 h). Median opioid consumption was 57.5 oral morphine equivalents (IQR 30–74.38). One patient required opioid iv patient-controlled analgesia.


Applying TAP block to spine surgery is a novel pain management strategy. This study demonstrates high patient acceptance and the general safety of the technique. Although lacking a control arm, these results also provide preliminary data supporting efficacy.

Graphic abstract

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