SLAP Repair

The labrum is a ring of cartilage that is attached to the rim of the cup (glenoid) and helps deepen the socket in the shoulder.  “SLAP” stands for superior (upper) labrum anterior to posterior and identifies the upper half of the labrum.  The ball (humeral head) fits somewhat loosely into the cup.  The capsule and ligaments, which stabilize the shoulder attach to the labrum and bony rim of the cup.  Those individuals involved in overhead sports or those that sustain an injury falling on their outstretched arm are particularly prone to injuring the superior labrum.  An injury to the labrum can result in poorly localized pain, which is often described as ‘deep’ in the shoulder.  Other symptoms may include occasional catching or popping, discomfort with overhead activities and difficulty throwing effectively.  The exam findings can be vague with no one examination conclusively identifying a tear.  When your shoulder is rotated overhead or brought across your body, pain may be produced.  A generalized looseness of the shoulder joint is not uncommon.  An MRI of your shoulder (sometimes with dye contrast) is the most accurate imaging study.  Superior labral tears rarely heal and if they continue to create pain and dysfunction despite conservative treatment, may require minimally invasive arthroscopic surgery.  The labrum may need to be cleaned up or debrided if it is frayed or flap tears have developed.  In other instances, it may be possible to repair the labrum.  The bony rim of the cup is abraded to stimulate healing.  Small anchors are placed along the rim and the attached sutures are passed around the labrum to secure it to the glenoid rim.  Physical therapy following surgery will enable you to regain motion and strength in your shoulder.  Once repaired, the labrum is generally slow to heal and may up to 6 months for return to full activities

Watch Animation