Arthroscopic Labral Repair
The labrum refers to the fibrous cartilage like tissue that surrounds the end of the ball and socket joint of the shoulder. The labrum serves two basic functions; first as an attachment point for several ligaments that provide stability to the shoulder. The second function is to deepen the shoulder socket.
Injuries to the labrum are relatively common. Dislocation or subluxation of the shoulder can result in the labrum being torn away from the bone. Tears to the labrum can also result from normal wear and tear degeneration. Tears to the biceps tendon at the junction of the labrum also commonly occur and are known as SLAP (Superior Labrum Anterior and Posterior) tears.
Surgery for a torn labrum is performed arthroscopically by a trained orthopaedic surgeon. The surgeon will make several tiny incisions over the shoulder and insert an arthroscope (camera) to visualize the problem. Depending on the type and nature of the labral tear, the surgeon may elect to debride some of the tissue to form a stable surface or in other cases, the labrum is reattached using various suturing techniques. In the case of a SLAP tear, the biceps tendon attachment may need to be cut and reattached.
A labral repair can be complex based on the degree and location of the tear(s). If a labral repair is performed, patients are placed in a sling or immobilizer post-operatively to protect the repair for up to several weeks. A structured rehabilitation program likely will be recommended following surgery to restore function, range of motion and strength.
This type of surgery is normally performed on an inpatient in a hospital setting. Range of motion exercises are started on post-operative day one with the assistance of a physical therapist. As structured physical therapy program is a key part of the recovery from this type of surgery. Recovery may take several months.