Background: Tears of the superior labrum (superior labrum anterior and posterior [SLAP] lesions) of the shoulder are uncommon injuries; however, the incidence of surgical correction seems to be increasing.
Purpose: To report the findings of a review of a proprietary descriptive database that catalogs cases for the purpose of board certification on the demographics of SLAP lesion repair. It is the authors' impression that the percentage of cases of SLAP lesion repairs reported by young orthopaedic surgeons is high and that complications associated with this are not insignificant.
Study design: Cohort study; level of evidence, 3.
Methods: We searched the American Board of Orthopedic Surgery (ABOS) part II database to evaluate changes in treatment over time and to identify available outcomes and associated complications of arthroscopic repair of SLAP lesions. The database was searched for all SLAP lesions (ICD-9 code 840.7) and SLAP repairs (CPT code 29807) for the years 2003 through 2008. Utilization was analyzed by geographic region and was also obtained based on applicant subspecialty declaration.
Results: There were 4975 SLAP repairs, representing 9.4% of all applicants' shoulder cases. Mean follow-up was 8.9 weeks because of the time-limited case collection period. There were 78.4% who were men, and 21.6% of patients were women. The percentage of shoulder cases that were SLAP repairs increased over the study period from 9.4% to 10.1% by 2008 (P = .0163). Mean age of male patients was 36.4 ± 13.0 years, with a maximum of 85 years. Mean age of female patients was 40.9 ± 14.0 years, with a maximum of 88 years. Pain was reported as absent in only 26.3% of patients at follow-up and function as normal in only 13.1%. There were 40.1% of applicants who self-reported their patients to have an excellent result. The self-reported complication rate was 4.4%. Declared sports medicine specialists had a higher percentage of SLAP repairs than did general orthopaedic surgeons: 12.4% versus 9.2%.
Conclusion: The percentage of shoulder cases that are SLAP repairs reported by the candidates is 3 times the published incidence supported by the current literature. The large number of repairs in middle-aged and elderly patients is concerning. Focusing on educating young orthopaedic surgeons to appropriately recognize and treat symptomatic SLAP lesions may bring the rate of SLAP repairs down.