6 insights on TAP blocks in anesthesia

Although transverse abdominis plane blocks could improve pain management and reduce opioid use, providers have been slow to adopt this modality, according to Anesthesia Business Consultants President and CEO Tony Mira.

Six insights about TAP blocks in anesthesia:

1. Four new CPT codes were added for TAP blocks in 2015:

  • 64486-unilateral, single shot
  • 64487-unilateral, continuous
  • 64488-bilateral, single shot
  • 64489-bilateral, continuous

2. Those codes are popular in common abdominal procedures such as colectomy and total abdominal hysterectomy, but usage is inconsistent among providers.

3. ABC observed an increase in the number of TAP blocks billed after the new codes were added.

4. Nerve blocks are increasing in popularity because they're believed to minimize opioid use, lower pain scores, reduce opioid-related side effects and increase patient comfort.

5. The American Medical Association's swift decision to include TAP blocks in the CPT code book "is significant and has encouraged adoption across the country," according to Mr. Mira.

6. Continued adoption of TAP blocks may be slow as providers learn the clinical value and necessary technical skills for this approach.

"While the clinical studies supporting the use of TAP blocks for abdominal procedures may not yet be 100 percent conclusive, they are definitely compelling, and thousands of patients are benefiting from these blocks every year," Mr. Mira said.

More articles on anesthesia:
American Pain Society considers bankruptcy — 4 details
NAPA anesthesiologists win national performance accolade — 4 details
Viewpoint: How payers are suppressing anesthesia payments — 3 observations

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