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Sugar Land, TX – Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital Physicians Perform New Procedure to Relieve Post-Surgical Abdominal Pain

Sugar Land, TX News (December 10, 2014) – Physicians at Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital recently performed Fort Bend’s first transversus abdominis plane (TAP) block with laparoscopic colon surgery to minimize post-surgical pain.

TAP blocks numb the nerves supplying the anterior abdominal wall prior to abdominal surgery. They are performed under general anesthesia in the operating room. The TAP block limits the amount of post-operative pain, minimizes the need for post-surgery pain medication and reduces the length of stay in the hospital.

First TAP Mahmood

The end result is that when combined with minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery, TAP blocks enable patients to return normal to activities – including work – much more quickly than with conventional abdominal surgery.

“Traditional colon surgery – whether it was for colon cancer, diverticulitis or other reasons – typically requires a substantial recovery period,” says Ali Mahmood, M.D., board-certified colorectal surgeon at Houston Methodist Sugar Land. “It was intimidating for patients because they knew they would have a long hospital stay and would be lying in bed at home for weeks, often in pain. But today we can use the TAP block – along with laparoscopic surgery – to achieve the same beneficial surgical results while minimizing pain and recovery time.”

John Stubblefield was the first patient in Fort Bend to receive a TAP block prior to laparoscopic colon surgery. Stubblefield sought out Dr. Mahmood for abdominal pain caused by diverticulitis, a common digestive disease, that was growing worse.

“Diverticulitis can be a very challenging problem,” says Dr. Mahmood. “It can impair patients from carrying out their day to day activities, and if the attacks get severe, it can cause a patient to become septic and get into serious, life-threatening trouble. Surgery is often the best course of treatment.”

Stubblefield was apprehensive about going into the hospital and worried about a long and painful recovery. But when his diverticulitis began severely impacting his quality of life, he realized that avoiding surgery was no longer an option.

The morning of the operation, board-certified anesthesiologist David Green, M.D., administered a general anesthesia to Stubblefield in the operating room at Houston Methodist Sugar Land. When the anesthesia had taken effect, Dr. Green injected a local anesthesia into the space between abdominal muscles to perform the TAP block, and Dr. Mahmood proceeded with surgery.

“TAP blocks are a relatively new procedure that have a tremendous benefit to patients undergoing abdominal surgery,” says Dr. Green. The local anesthesia typically lasts 36 to 38 hours, which is enough time to allow healing to begin and reduce the need for powerful pain medications post-surgery. The TAP block is quick, painless and effective in controlling post-operative pain.”

Stubblefield was released from Houston Methodist Sugar Land after a three-day stay. Prior to discharge, he was walking well under his own strength, eating soft meals and taking minimal pain medication.

After arriving home, he did not need a single pain pill.  And just 13 days after surgery, he received clearance from Dr. Mahmood to return to work.

“I never thought my surgery would go so smoothly,” says Stubblefield. “I thank Dr. Mahmood, Dr. Green, the wonderful nursing staff on 4 East at Houston Methodist Sugar Land and especially my wife for helping me with this operation. Now, I live pain-free and no longer have the fear of that terrible disease hanging over me.”

For a referral to Dr. Mahmood, or another colorectal surgeon on staff at Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital, call 281-274-7500. To learn more about Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital, please visit, and visit our Facebook page at for the latest news, events and information.

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