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Background and Aims The transversus abdominis plane (TAP) block is a regional technique for anterolateral abdominal wall analgesia. It is widely used for postsurgical acute pain management, in the context of a multimodal opioid-sparing analgesia. The cornerstone of major abdominal surgery pain management is continuous epidural analgesia. However, especially in the ICU environment, the insertion of an epidural catheter, in addition to being affected by the coagulative arrangement, could be contraindicated by antiaggregation or anticoagulation therapy. It also required advanced technical skills. Moreover, TAP block presented fewer contraindication and it is a rather simple procedure with a shallow learning curve ant it provides long-lasting analgesia.
Methods Patient, 67 years-old, admitted to ICU for post-surgical management after a duodenocephalopancreatectomy for cholangiocarcinoma. In 12th day he developed an acute abdominal pain, prevalent in the upper quadrants, radiating to the back, with a progressive anemization. The clinical pain manifestation, described by patient, seemed suggestive for acute post-surgical pancreatitis. We decided to make a TAP block for pain relief and to discriminate between visceral or somatic pain. Within few minutes, the patient was free of pain. So, in the suspicion of hemorrhagic complication, as the pain trigger, we performed a FAST-US which revealed free fluid around liver and in the Douglas cavity. The patient was subjected to a CT confirming the US finding and he underwent an abdominal surgical procedure.
Conclusions We described a case report in which TAP block was successfully used in the differential diagnosis of an acute abdomen in critical care setting.
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