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SLAP Repair

A SLAP tear is an injury to the labrum of the shoulder, which is the ring of cartilage that surrounds the socket of the shoulder joint.


Injuries to the superior labrum can be caused by acute trauma or by repetitive shoulder motion.

Many SLAP tears, however, are the result of a wearing down of the labrum that occurs slowly over time. In patients over 40 years of age, tearing or fraying of the superior labrum can be seen as a normal process of aging. This differs from an acute injury in a person under the age of 40.

I have a diagnosis of a SLAP tear…now what?

SLAP Repair Surgery

A SLAP repair is performed arthroscopically using sutures to reattach the torn labrum back to the bone.

The steps of a SLAP repair are:

  • The SLAP tear is identified and excess/damaged tissue is removed.
  • A small hole is drilled into the bone where the labrum has torn off (the SLAP tear).
  • An anchor is placed into this hole; attached to the anchor is a strong suture.
  • The suture is used to tie the torn labrum snuggly against the bone.
  • Additional anchors are placed as needed to secure to torn labrum.


The common symptoms of a SLAP tear are similar to many other shoulder problems.

Symptoms include:

  • A sensation of locking, popping, catching, or grinding
  • Pain with movement of the shoulder or with holding the shoulder in specific positions
  • Pain with lifting objects, especially overhead
  • Decrease in shoulder strength
  • A feeling that the shoulder is going to “pop out of joint”
  • Decreased range of motion

Pitchers may notice a decrease in their throw velocity, or the feeling of having a “dead arm” after pitching

What are the advantages of this procedure?

The advantage of a SLAP repair is that it restores the normal anatomy of the superior labrum/biceps anchor complex. As a result, once the SLAP tear has healed, there is normal function of the previously damaged labrum and biceps attachment. This is important in young patients who will depend on their shoulder for athletic activity over several years.