SLAP Repair

A SLAP repair is a minimally invasive, arthroscopic procedure that repairs damage to the superior labrum anterior-posterior (SLAP) cartilage in the shoulder. This procedure relieves chronic shoulder pain and restores range of motion lost due to injury or overuse.

What You Need To Know About SLAP Repair

What Is SLAP Repair?

A SLAP repair is a minimally invasive, arthroscopic procedure performed to repair a tear of the biceps tendon where it connects to the labrum, a ring of cartilage that surrounds the shoulder socket. A tear at this point is called a SLAP (Superior Labrum Anterior-Posterior) tear.

When this portion of the labrum tears, the upper arm bone loses its cushion, and the bicep tendon loses its connection to the shoulder blade socket. As a result, the shoulder hurts and feels unstable. SLAP repair is performed under general and regional anesthesia, and patients usually leave the hospital the same day.

Why Is SLAP Repair Performed?

SLAP repair is performed to fix cartilage in the inner part of a shoulder joint that has been torn by injury or overuse. This makes it painful or difficult to move the shoulder and arm. Left untreated, these tears can cause chronic pain, limit arm/shoulder movement, and lead to more serious shoulder problems.

Most labral tears do not require surgery. Your doctor may prescribe non-operative treatment such as rest, anti-inflammatory medication, and exercises to strengthen the rotator cuff muscles. If non-surgical measures are insufficient, there is persistent instability, or the patient places high demands on the shoulder, SLAP repair may be recommended.

What Happens During SLAP Repair?

  • Preparation - At the beginning of surgery, anesthesia is administered. The surgeon makes a few small incisions in your shoulder. One is for an arthroscope, a small camera that sends live video to a monitor. The other openings are for surgical instruments.

  • Repair - There are many ways to repair a SLAP tear. Your surgeon chooses the method that is right for you. Your labrum may be trimmed. It can be secured with anchors and sutures. Your biceps tendon may need adjustments, too.

  • End of procedure - When the surgery is done, the incisions in your skin are closed and bandaged. You will be monitored for a brief time, and then you can go home. You will wear a sling as your shoulder heals. Your healthcare provider will give you tips to help your recovery.

Are There Risks Associated With SLAP Repair?

Any surgery carries certain risks, and your Resurgens physician will discuss any potential complications with you. These include infection, bleeding, damage to blood vessels and nerves in your shoulder joint, recurring shoulder instability, and shoulder stiffness. In rare cases, further surgery may be needed.

Post SLAP Repair & Recovery

  • Most patients can go home the same day as their surgery following an observation period.

  • Following surgery, your arm will be immobilized in a sling for a period of weeks after your surgery. You may need help with everyday activities, including driving.

  • Ice packs and NSAID pain medications can be used to relieve pain.

  • Physical therapy may be recommended to help strengthen your shoulder.

  • Most patients report feeling fully recovered at 6 months post-surgery.

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