Abstract Transversus abdominis plane (TAP) catheters are increasingly being used as an opioid-sparing analgesic technique following abdominal surgery. The aim of this systematic review is to evaluate the efficacy and safety of TAP catheters for postoperative analgesia following abdominal surgery in adults. The authors searched electronic databases and relevant reference lists for randomized controlled trials published between inception and January 2017. Twelve randomized controlled trials were identified, comprising 661 participants, with several trials showing either an equivalence or superiority in analgesia compared with the alternative modality. Because of the extremely heterogeneous nature of the studies, a specific consensus regarding their results, or the ability to construct a meta-analysis, is unviable. Although there are promising indications for the benefit of TAP catheter techniques, extrapolation/comparison of results and application to patient care will be better elucidated when there is more standardization of TAP catheter techniques and the methodology for measuring efficacy.
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The authors declare no conflict of interest.