SLAP lesions: a treatment algorithm.
Tears of the superior labrum involving the biceps anchor are a common entity, especially in athletes, and may highly impair shoulder function. If conservative treatment fails, successful arthroscopic repair of symptomatic SLAP lesions has been described in the literature particularly for young athletes. However, the results in throwing athletes are less successful with a significant amount of patients who will not regain their pre-injury level of performance. The clinical results of SLAP repairs in middle-aged and older patients are mixed, with worse results and higher revision rates as compared to younger patients. In this population, tenotomy or tenodesis of the biceps tendon is a viable alternative to SLAP repairs in order to improve clinical outcomes. The present article introduces a treatment algorithm for SLAP lesions based upon the recent literature as well as the authors' clinical experience. The type of lesion, age of patient, concomitant lesions, and functional requirements, as well as sport activity level of the patient, need to be considered. Moreover, normal variations and degenerative changes in the SLAP complex have to be distinguished from "true" SLAP lesions in order to improve results and avoid overtreatment. The suggestion for a treatment algorithm includes: type I: conservative treatment or arthroscopic debridement, type II: SLAP repair or biceps tenotomy/tenodesis, type III: resection of the instable bucket-handle tear, type IV: SLAP repair (biceps tenotomy/tenodesis if >50 % of biceps tendon is affected), type V: Bankart repair and SLAP repair, type VI: resection of the flap and SLAP repair, and type VII: refixation of the anterosuperior labrum and SLAP repair.
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