Current trends in the evaluation and treatment of SLAP lesions: analysis of a survey of specialist shoulder surgeons

JSES Open Access. 2018 Feb 1;2(1):48-53. doi: 10.1016/j.jses.2017.12.002. eCollection 2018 Mar.


Background: Controversies exist in the classification and management of superior labral anterior and posterior (SLAP) lesions. Our aims were to assess the concordance rate of a group of specialist shoulder surgeons on the diagnosis of SLAP types and to assess the current trends in treatment preferences for different SLAP types.

Methods: Shoulder surgeons (N = 103) who are members of the Shoulder and Elbow Society of Australia were invited to participate in a multimedia survey on the classification and management of SLAP lesions. Response rate was 36%. The survey included 10 cases, each containing a short clinical vignette followed by an arthroscopic video depicting varying types of SLAP lesions. Surgeons were asked to classify the lesions and to recommend treatment.

Results: There is low interobserver agreement in classifying SLAP lesions. The most common misdiagnosis of type I lesion was as a type II, and vice versa. Surgeons preferred to treat type II SLAP lesions in younger patients (<35 years) with labral repair and in older patients with biceps tenodesis. The most commonly preferred repair technique for type II lesion was with suture anchors placed both anterior and posterior to the biceps tendon. For all lesion types, biceps tenotomy was a far less commonly preferred procedure than biceps tenodesis.

Conclusion: There is poor agreement between contemporary surgeons in the classification and treatment of SLAP lesions. The age of the patient appears to play a significant factor in the surgeons' deciding to treat a SLAP lesion with repair vs. biceps tenodesis.

Keywords: Arthroscopy; Biceps tendon; Biceps tenodesis; Glenoid labrum; Reliability; Superior labral anterior-posterior lesion.