SLAP lesion repair is a surgical procedure to repair a tear resulting from an injury to the labrum located in the shoulder joint. SLAP is an acronym for Superior Labrum from Anterior to Posterior. This refers to a tear where the tendon of the bicep muscle joins the labrum, and is most commonly caused by falling onto an outstretched hand, lifting a heavy object, or repetitive overhead movements, such as throwing.
SLAP lesion repair may be recommended if pain persists after several months of nonsurgical treatment. The most commonly used procedure for repairing a SLAP lesion is arthroscopy. It is a minimally invasive procedure that uses a small incision and a lighted device with a camera, called an arthroscope, to repair the torn tissue or cartilage. It can be used to repair different types of SLAP tears and allows the surgeon to view the shoulder and any damage so that the tear can be repaired accordingly.
A SLAP lesion repair surgery offers surgeons a way to visualize and repair a SLAP lesion using only very small incisions. This low-risk surgery treats shoulder pain that hasn’t been resolved using other methods. It also allows a patient to regain full range of motion in the shoulder so that they can resume their normal activities after a recovery period.
Along with treating labral tears, SLAP repair can also detect and treat other shoulder issues that can cause pain and stiffness.
It involves minimal scarring and less pain and recovery time than traditional open surgery.
SLAP lesion repair is done arthroscopically. You will be given general anesthesia and, in some cases, a nerve block to limit pain. The surgeon will make a small incision and insert the arthroscope, allowing him to view the shoulder and detect any other damage. Thin instruments needed to repair the torn labrum will be passed through other small incisions. Once the SLAP lesion is repaired, the incisions will be closed using one or two stitches and then covered with a sterile dressing.
Along with repairing a SLAP lesion, this procedure can also diagnose and treat other shoulder conditions, including:
- Bursal inflammation
- Rotator cuff tears
- Cartilage damage
The symptoms treated by SLAP lesion repair are:
- Shoulder pain with movement or certain positions
- Stiffness of the shoulder joint
- A popping, locking, or grinding sensation
- Impaired range of motion
- Shoulder weakness
You will be given pre-op instructions telling you how to prepare for the surgery. In most cases, you will need to do the following before SLAP lesion repair:
- Avoid certain medications and dietary supplements. Some prescription and non-prescription medications, as well as dietary supplements may increase the risk of bleeding during and after surgery. You may be advised to stop taking these the week or two prior to surgery.
- Consult with your physician. If you are experiencing any illnesses, like a cold or virus before the surgery, be sure to inform your physician or surgeon of this before the procedure.
- Avoid eating or drinking for up 6 to 12 hours. You will be told how long to fast before the SLAP lesion repair.
- Arrange for a ride home. While we will provide for all transportation while you are staying with us in Tampa, you will not be able to drive yourself home from the airport the day after your procedure. Be sure to arrange for someone to drive you home from the airport upon your return.
You will be monitored in a recovery room for a few hours before being released. Pain medication will be given to control pain and discomfort from the procedure. You will also be required to wear a sling for the first two to four weeks after surgery to protect the labrum as it heals. The sling will keep your arm and shoulder from moving.
ARO will set up your follow-up appointments and physical therapy prior to the surgery. Our goal is to give you less to worry about after your procedure, aside from restoring your active life. Gentle exercises will help improve your range of motion and alleviate any stiffness in your shoulder. Within four to six weeks after SLAP lesion repair, you will have strengthening exercises added gradually into your program. Full recovery can take a few months depending on the extent of your damage. Your doctor will advise you as to when you can get back to your regular activities.