Arthroscopic surgery is indicated for Superior Labrum Anterior-to-Posterior tears – or SLAP tears – that fail to respond to non-surgical treatment. The best arthroscopic treatment for a SLAP tear depends on the type of tear present. Some tears can be treated with simple removal of the torn fragments, whereas others respond best to repair. Finally, in older patients and those with additional damage to the biceps tendon, biceps tenodesis or tenotomy provides the most reliable pain relief. The optimal treatment is often determined at the time of surgery.
When a SLAP repair is indicated, the torn labral tissue is secured back to the rim of the glenoid (socket) using minimally invasive arthroscopic techniques. This is performed through small incisions around the shoulder called “portals”. An arthroscopic camera is passed through one portal and small surgical tools are passed through other portals to perform the repair. The labrum is repaired with high-strength sutures attached to one or more small suture anchors placed in the bone.
Arthroscopic SLAP repair is an outpatient surgery. Patients go home the same day with a shoulder immobilizer sling. The sling is worn for 4-6 weeks, but may be removed for bathing and physical therapy. Most patients are allowed to return to their activities by 6 months after surgery.