A trial comparing different ways of controlling pain after keyhole surgery to remove part of the bowel

Cancer type:

Bowel (colorectal) cancer
Colon cancer
Rectal cancer





This trial compared different ways of giving local anaesthetic to control pain after keyhole surgery to remove part of the bowel.

More about this trial

Surgery is one of the main treatments for bowel cancer. Some people have keyhole (laparoscopic) surgery, where the surgeon makes small cuts (keyholes) in the abdomen. The surgeon then puts the surgical instruments and a camera through the keyholes to do the operation.

When this trial was done, surgeons usually injected local anaesthetic into the area at the end of the operation, to help reduce pain. 

In this trial, some people taking part had local anaesthetic in the usual way. And some had local anaesthetic injected between the layers of muscle in the abdomen. This blocks the pain signals in the nerves (a nerve block) to help reduce pain. This type of nerve block is called a transversus abdominis plane (TAP) block.

The main aims of the trial were to see if a TAP block helps people:

  • have less pain after keyhole surgery
  • recover more quickly from their operation

Summary of results

The research team found that a transversus abdominis plane (TAP) block worked as well as injecting local anaesthetic in the operation area.

This trial was open for people to join between 2011 and 2013, and the research team published results in 2017. 

About this trial
To begin with the research team recruited 71 people to take part in this trial. But some people needed a different type of operation, and the team didn’t have enough information about some others. So these people weren’t able to take part.

The 56 people who took part were put into 1 of 2 groups at random:

  • 28 had local anaesthetic injected around the operation site
  • 28 had local anaesthetic injected into the muscle layers of the abdomen (a transversus abdominis plane (TAP) nerve block)

The research team looked at a number of factors after surgery, including:

  • how much pain relief people needed in the 48 hours after their operation
  • how much pain people had (their pain score)
  • whether people felt sick or not
  • how long it was until people were up and about after surgery
  • how long people were in hospital for

They found there was no difference between the 2 groups for any of these factors.

The research team concluded that there was no difference in how well these two types of pain relief worked after keyhole surgery for bowel cancer. The TAP block worked as well as local anaesthetic injected around the operation site. 

Where this information comes from    
We have based this summary on information from the research team. The information they sent us has been reviewed by independent specialists (peer reviewed Open a glossary item) and published in a medical journal. The figures we quote above were provided by the trial team who did the research. We have not analysed the data ourselves.

Recruitment start:

Recruitment end:

How to join a clinical trial

Please note: In order to join a trial you will need to discuss it with your doctor, unless otherwise specified.

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Chief Investigator

Dr Nicholas Crabtree

Supported by

Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust

If you have questions about the trial please contact our cancer information nurses

Freephone 0808 800 4040

Last review date

CRUK internal database number:


Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Around 1 in 5 people take part in clinical trials

3 phases of trials

Around 1 in 5 people diagnosed with cancer in the UK take part in a clinical trial.

Last reviewed:

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