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Arthroscopic SLAP repair

The shoulder joint is made up of a fixture of ball and joint, comprising of the upper arm bone, the shoulder blade and the collar bone. The upper arm bone forms a ball at its head, which fits perfectly into the socket presented by the shoulder joint, known as glenoid cavity. The glenoid is surrounded by a strong fibrous tissue known as labrum. It is a tear of the superior or anterior labrum is medically called a SLAP tear. This SLAP tear is an injury that affects the labrum. This injury may also affect the bicep tendon, which is attached to the labrum. This injury is generally induced due to repeated use of the shoulder or falling on it. This SLAP tear can be treated arthroscopically by a procedure known as SLAP repair.

Arthroscopic SLAP Repair Procedure

The SLAP repair has become a well-established procedure to treat SLAP tear. It is a minimally invasive procedure, using an arthroscope, and hence patients tend to prefer this mode of surgery compared to others. A tube with a light installation and a camera is inserted into the joint. The camera along with the light allows the surgeon to view the inside of your joint on a monitor. The procedure adopted for the SLAP repair depends on the extent of the tear and consequently the procedure is determined by the surgeon. The procedure of SLAP repair is performed under general anesthesia and nerve block, so make sure to disclose all medical conditions before going under the anesthesia.

Here is a step by step description of the SLAP repair procedure:

  • The surgeon will make small incisions around the shoulder joint to insert the arthroscope and other thin surgical instruments.
  • This will allow the surgeon to identify the type and the extent of the SLAP tear, following which he/she will remove the damaged tissue of the labrum.
  • Close to the labral tear, into the bone of the shoulder socket, the surgeon will drill a small hole.
  • An anchor will be placed into the hole, supported by a strong suture.
  • Your surgeon may also place additional anchors if he/she deems it necessary to secure the torn labrum to the bone and the shoulder socket.
  • The procedure ends, when your surgeon ties the torn labrum to the bone with the help of sutures.

Advantages of A SLAP Repair

The SLAP repair comes with a number of advantages. It helps to reattach the torn labrum to its normal anatomical position, restoring its function and activity in the shoulder. The repair will allow normal functioning of the formerly torn and damaged labrum and the bicep attachment.

Risks & Complication of a SLAP Repair

SLAP repair, like any other surgical procedure, comes with its own risks and complications. These may include:

  • Infection in and around the operated area.
  • Excessive bleeding due to surgical complications.
  • Blood clots after the operation.
  • Shoulder stiffness due to misguided surgery or lack of post-operative care.
  • Injury to nerves or blood vessels during the surgery.

Since, SLAP repair is a less invasive procedure the risks are certainly minimal, however, always consult an experienced doctor and reveal your complete medical history to avoid these.




Consultant Orthopedic, Joint Replacement and Arthroscopy Surgeon

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