Background: Superior labral anterior-posterior (SLAP) lesions are a common cause of pain and disability in athletes. Individual studies have suggested low patient satisfaction with SLAP repairs in throwing athletes in particular and it is unclear how frequently athletes return to their previous level of competetion.
Questions/purposes: We systematically reviewed the literature to determine (1) patient satisfaction and (2) return to play at previous level of competition among throwing athletes compared to all athletes who underwent repair of Type II SLAP tears using various types of fixation.
Methods: We searched databases for English-language articles in peer-reviewed journals from 1950 to 2010 reporting Type II SLAP repairs with 2-year followup for our systematic review. A total of 506 patients with Type II SLAP tears were reviewed from 14 studies; of these, 327 had SLAP lesions repaired by anchor, 169 by tacks, and 10 by staples. Of the 506 patients, 198 were overhead athletes with a pooled subset of 81 identified baseball players.
Results: For the entire patient population, 83% had "good-to-excellent" patient satisfaction and 73% returned to their previous level of play whereas only 63% of overhead athletes returned to their previous level of play. Anchor repair in overhead athletes resulted in a higher percentage of "good-to-excellent" patient satisfaction (88% versus 74%) and a slightly higher return to play rate (63% versus 57%) compared with tack repair.
Conclusions: Repair of Type II SLAP tears leads to a return to previous level of play in most patients. Overhead athletes appear to have a lower rate of return to level of previous of play. Anchor fixation appears to be the most favorable fixation in both subjective scores and return to previous level of play.