Types of SLAP Tears
Authors: Lennard Funk
If you have been diagnosed with a SLAP tear, your surgeon may have called it a 'Type 1 or 2 or 3, etc'. SLAP tears have been classified according to their severity of tear. Please note that it does not mean that the outcome of surgery is worse, it just gives us surgeons a guide to management and a form of communication. The common types are types 1 to 4. There are other types, but these are rare.
SLAP Type 1
Treatment is usually to 'debride' (clean) the edges.
SLAP Type 2
Type 2 is the comonest type of SLAP tear. The superior labrum is completely torn off the glenoid, due to an injury (often a shoulder dislocation). This type leaves a gap between the articular cartilage and the labral attachment to the bone. Type 2 SLAP tears can be further subdivided into (a) anterior (b) posterior, and (c) combined anterior-posterior lesions.
SLAP Type 3
A Type 3 tear is a 'bucket-handle' tear of the labrum, where the torn labrum hangs into the joint and causes symptoms of 'locking' and 'popping' or 'clunking'.
Treatment usually involves removal of the 'bucket-handle' segment and then repair of any remaining detached, unstable labrum (SLAP repair). This is done arthroscopically (keyhole) using suture anchors.
SLAP Type 4
The Type 4 SLAP tear is one where the tear of the labrum extends into the long head of biceps tendon.
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