National trends in the diagnosis and repair of SLAP lesions in the United States

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Journal of orthopaedic surgery (Hong Kong)


BACKGROUND: Since superior labrum anterior-to-posterior (SLAP) tear was introduced as an International Classification of Diseases-Ninth Revision, Clinical Modification diagnosis in 1994, awareness, diagnosis, and surgical treatment of this disorder has increased. Here, we aim to clarify trends in the frequency of SLAP tear diagnosis and arthroscopic SLAP repair surgery in the United States.

METHODS: Using private insurance claims from 2003 to 2013 in MarketScan (approximately 55 million Americans), we identified patients with SLAP tear diagnosis or arthroscopic SLAP repair surgery. Population-based rates of SLAP diagnosis and related shoulder procedures were calculated.

RESULTS: A total of 329,643 patients in the MarketScan database received a SLAP tear diagnosis. In all, 62.8% underwent some form of shoulder surgery after diagnosis. SLAP diagnosis increased from 28.0 per 100,000 in 2003 to 142.4 per 100,000 in 2013 (p < 0.0001); the rate of shoulder surgery in these patients increased from 20.1 per 100,000 in 2003 to 74.1 per 100,000 in 2013 (p < 0.0001). However, the percentage of patients with SLAP tears who got shoulder surgery decreased (p < 0.0001). In 2003, almost no patient got biceps tenodesis for SLAP tears; by 2013, 18.1% of surgeries for SLAP tear were biceps tenodesis. Isolated arthroscopic SLAP repairs peaked in 2009 at 28.4 per 100,000 and stabilized thereafter.

CONCLUSION: We confirmed prior reports that SLAP diagnosis increased from 2003 to 2013, although the percentage of these patients who underwent surgery decreased over this period. Arthroscopic SLAP repair doubled but then plateaued after 2009. Biceps tenodesis now accounts for a substantial portion of surgeries for SLAP tear. This may reflect an improved understanding of superior labrum anatomy and biomechanics.

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