Shoulder Labral Tear Surgery Pros and Cons

A labrum is a form of cartilage that can be found in the joint of the shoulder. The shoulder joint is a ball and socket joint that connects the arm to the rest of the body. At the shoulder, the arm bone (humerus) creates a ball that meets the socket, which is a component of the shoulder blade, to form a joint. These two bones are linked together by ligaments, which are strong tissues that form tethers that keep the bones in place.

Due to the location of this cartilage in the shoulder, it is extremely difficult to diagnose a torn labrum on physical examination. There are a few tests that the doctor can do to see if the labrum is torn, but these tests are not always accurate. There is also the issue that labrum rips can take various forms and that certain tests will identify one type of tear but not another. Some doctors believe that a labral tear can be diagnosed during a physical examination, but this is debatable. 

There are few scientific studies that demonstrate that physical examination is a reliable method for diagnosing labral tears. Other studies can be done to confirm the diagnosis if it is suspected as a result of this uncertainty.

Shoulder Labral Tear Surgery Pros and Cons

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans or a test called a CT-arthrogram are the best methods for diagnosing a labral tear. Both of these tests are relatively accurate at identifying a labrum tear caused by subluxation or dislocation, however, they are only about 80% to 85% accurate. 

So some doctors believe testing is unnecessary if history and physical examination can diagnose subluxation or dislocation. Both of these tests are currently ineffective in determining if a patient has a SLAP injury. This area is extremely complicated, and it is challenging to obtain reliable images of this area using magnetic resonance imaging.

The type of labrum tear will define the treatment. Surgical reattachment of the labrum to the socket rim is required in the case of tears caused by shoulder instability, such as subluxations or dislocations. This can be done with a big incision on the front of the shoulder or with arthroscopic treatments using smaller incisions. Each strategy has its own set of pros and cons.

Shoulder Labral Tear Surgery Pros

For a shoulder labral tear, arthroscopic surgery is the optimal orthopedic surgical choice.

Joint arthroscopy is classified as a minimally invasive technique since it allows the surgeon to both inspect and treat a joint without having to open it up completely. When compared to open surgery, this results in less damage to the joint and less scarring, as well as shorter recovery times and lower risks of problems.

Comparing arthroscopy to open surgery, the following benefits can be gained:

  • Reduced invasiveness
  • Soft tissue trauma is kept to a minimum.
  • Less post-operative discomfort
  • A shorter recovery period
  • Reduced risk of infection

Shoulder Labral Tear Surgery Cons

An arthroscopy disadvantage is the high cost of specialized instruments and the considerable training required to become an expert in the technique. Arthroscopy is used to check and treat joints like the stifle, shoulder, and elbow. The hip, tarsus, and carpus are the joints that aren't very common.

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