A SLAP (Superior Labrum Anterior and Posterior) repair is a type of surgery that is done in order to treat damage to the labrum, which is a ring of cartilage in the shoulder joint that is formed by the glenoid. SLAP tears are mostly seen in athletes especially those who engage in overhead activities such as baseball, tennis and swimming. Here’s a detailed overview:

Understanding SLAP Tears

Types of SLAP Tears:

1.     Type I: Tearing of the labrum, which is more common with age.

2.     Type II: The most typical form, characterized by the separation of the superior labrum and the biceps tendon anchor.

3.     Type III: A bucket-handle tear of the labrum, where the part that has been torn may get trapped within the joint.

4.     Type IV: A tear that affects the biceps tendon.

Symptoms of SLAP Tears

·        Shoulder pain that is deep and worsens with overhead activities.

·        Popping or clicking sensations.

·        A poor or unstable shoulder joint.

·        Restricted mobility.


The diagnosis may be based on patient history, physical examination, and imaging studies including MRI or MR arthrography to identify the presence of labral injury.

SLAP Repair Procedure


Preoperative assessment and imaging.

·        Presentation of risks, advantages, and possible results.

Surgical Steps:

1.     Anesthesia: The operation is often done under general anesthesia.

2.     Arthroscopy: Tiny cuts are made on the shoulder, and a small camera called an arthroscope is inserted to view the inside of the shoulder joint.

3.     Debridement or Repair:

·        For minor tears (Type I), simple debridement (removal of the damaged tissue) may be enough.

·        In cases of more severe tears (Types II, III, IV), the labrum is repaired to the glenoid with sutures and anchors.

4.     Biceps Tendon Management: At times, the biceps tendon can also be repaired or moved (biceps tenodesis) to reduce stress and prevent further problems.


Postoperative Care:

·        Immobilization: The shoulder joint is usually rested in a sling for several weeks to allow for healing to take place.

·        Physical Therapy: Initial passive and active range-of-motion exercises, then progressive exercises, then strengthening exercises.

·        Timeline: A complete recovery may take several months, with a gradual return to sports or other physical activities possible at around 4-6 months after surgery.

Rehabilitation Phases:

1.     Phase 1 (0-6 weeks): Protection and passive movement.

2.     Phase 2 (6-12 weeks): Purposeful movement and slow progress.

3.     Phase 3 (3-6 months): The next level of resistance training and functional exercises.

4.     Phase 4 (6+ months): Sports and high level of physical activities.

Risks and Complications

·        Infection

·        Stiffness or inability to move a part of the body.

·        Labral tear recurrence

·        Nerve injury

·        Persistent pain


The outcomes of SLAP repair are usually good, especially in young, active patients. However, the results may differ depending on the type of tear, the patient’s compliance with the rehabilitation process, and the existence of other shoulder injuries.

In conclusion, SLAP repair is a proven surgical procedure that is used to repair a labral tear with the purpose of restoring the stability and function of the shoulder. If the diagnosis is accurate, the surgery is performed correctly, and the rehabilitation program is followed, the majority of patients can anticipate a reduction in shoulder discomfort and a return to their preferred level of physical activity.