Types of SLAP Tears

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

This is a partial tear and degeneration to the superior labrum, where the edges are rough and fray along the free margin, but the labrum is not completely detached.

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.

Treatment is reattachment of the labrum (SLAP repair). This is done arthroscopically (keyhole) using suture anchors.

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.

Treatment is reattachment of the labrum (SLAP repair) and repair of the biceps tear, or a biceps tenodesis. This is done arthroscopically (keyhole) using suture anchors.

For more information, please see the Education Section

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