Sham surgery versus labral repair or biceps tenodesis for type II SLAP lesions of the shoulder: a three-armed randomised clinical trial

Br J Sports Med. 2017 Dec;51(24):1759-1766. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2016-097098. Epub 2017 May 11.


Background: Labral repair and biceps tenodesis are routine operations for superior labrum anterior posterior (SLAP) lesion of the shoulder, but evidence of their efficacy is lacking. We evaluated the effect of labral repair, biceps tenodesis and sham surgery on SLAP lesions.

Methods: A double-blind, sham-controlled trial was conducted with 118 surgical candidates (mean age 40 years), with patient history, clinical symptoms and MRI arthrography indicating an isolated type II SLAP lesion. Patients were randomly assigned to either labral repair (n=40), biceps tenodesis (n=39) or sham surgery (n=39) if arthroscopy revealed an isolated SLAP II lesion. Primary outcomes at 6 and 24 months were clinical Rowe score ranging from 0 to 100 (best possible) and Western Ontario Shoulder Instability Index (WOSI) ranging from 0 (best possible) to 2100. Secondary outcomes were Oxford Instability Shoulder Score, change in main symptoms, EuroQol (EQ-5D and EQ-VAS), patient satisfaction and complications.

Results: There were no significant between-group differences at any follow-up in any outcome. Between-group differences in Rowe scores at 2 years were: biceps tenodesis versus labral repair: 1.0 (95% CI -5.4 to 7.4), p=0.76; biceps tenodesis versus sham surgery: 1.6 (95% CI -5.0 to 8.1), p=0.64; and labral repair versus sham surgery: 0.6 (95% CI -5.9 to 7.0), p=0.86. Similar results-no differences between groups-were found for WOSI scores. Postoperative stiffness occurred in five patients after labral repair and in four patients after tenodesis.

Conclusion: Neither labral repair nor biceps tenodesis had any significant clinical benefit over sham surgery for patients with SLAP II lesions in the population studied.

Trial registration number: identifier: NCT00586742.

Keywords: Randomised trial; SLAP lesions; biceps tenodesis; labral repair; sham surgery.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Arthroscopy
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle, Skeletal / surgery*
  • Shoulder / pathology
  • Shoulder / surgery
  • Shoulder Injuries / surgery*
  • Shoulder Joint / surgery*
  • Tenodesis
  • Young Adult

Associated data