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SLAP Lesions and Glenoid Labrum Repair

SLAP is an acronym for “superior, labral, anterior, and posterior”. The labrum is a washer-like border of cartilage that surrounds the shoulder joint. It also forms the root of the biceps tendon. The labrum can become partially detached from the top of the shoulder. This produces pain with activity. It often occurs after minor trauma.

Diagnosis of a SLAP lesion:

There is no definitive test to accurately tell the diagnosis in all cases. When MRI is used, a substance called “gadolinium” is injected into the shoulder before the MRI is taken. However, false negative and false positive tests are common. The history and physical exam, in conjunction with the MRI, help to zero in on the problem.

SLAP lesion Treatment:

If a SLAP lesion is suspected and rest and physical therapy have been unsuccessful in managing the problem, then arthroscopic evaluation is warranted. If the arthroscopy finds a SLAP lesion, it can be easily repaired at that time. The labrum is reattached with a bioabsorbable “tack” or an absorbable anchor is inserted and the labrum sutured to it.

Complete healing and return to sports should occur by six months after the procedure. The success rate of this procedure is high.

Below is a video of an arthroscopic SLAP lesion repair.