SLAP tears of the glenoid labrum in contact athletes

Clin J Sport Med. 2007 Jan;17(1):1-4. doi: 10.1097/JSM.0b013e31802ede87.


Objective: To describe the distribution and clinical presentation of labral injuries in rugby players and the time taken for them to return to sports.

Design: Retrospective cohort study.

Setting: Busy shoulder practice in the North West of England, treating a large number of professional athletes.

Patients: A review of 51 shoulder arthroscopies performed on professional rugby players over a 35 month period. All patients diagnosed with a SLAP lesion at arthroscopy were identified. Eighteen patients had a documented SLAP tear; this group represented our study population.

Interventions: Arthroscopic debridement and/or stabilization was carried out for all labral injuries using Panaloc anchors and No. 2 PDS via a 2 portal technique.

Main outcome measurements: Classification of injury, Satisfaction, Time to return to play.

Results: The incidence of SLAP tears in our study population was 35%. There were 11 isolated SLAP tears (61%), 3 SLAP tears associated with a Bankart lesion (17%), 2 SLAP tears associated with a posterior labral lesion (11%), and 2 SLAP tears associated with an anterior and posterior labral injuries (11%). Of the 18 SLAP tears, 14 (78%) were type 2, 3 (17%) were type 3, and 1 (5%) was type 4. None of the patients with a SLAP tear presented with symptoms of instability. MR Arthrogram had a 76% sensitivity for detecting SLAP tears. By 6 months postsurgery, 89% of patients were satisfied. Patients with isolated SLAP tears were the quickest to return to sports, at an average of 2.6 months postsurgery.

Conclusions: SLAP tears are a common injury in rugby players. These can often be diagnosed with MR arthrography. Arthroscopic repair is associated with excellent results and early return to sports.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arthroscopy
  • Athletic Injuries / etiology*
  • Athletic Injuries / rehabilitation
  • Athletic Injuries / surgery
  • Debridement
  • Football*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Scapula / injuries
  • Shoulder Injuries*
  • Tendon Injuries / etiology*
  • Tendon Injuries / rehabilitation
  • Tendon Injuries / surgery
  • Time