Shoulder Repair Surgeries Increasingly Common In Wisconsin, Review Finds

Review Finds Frequency Of SLAP Repairs Has Doubled Over Past 8 Years

The frequency of SLAP repair has increased considerably over the past eight years. Photo: Monash University (CC-BY-NC).

A review of Wisconsin hospital records shows surgery for a common shoulder problem doubled over eight years, a rapid increase that can’t be explained entirely by population growth.

In the study published in the Wisconsin Medical Journal, doctors looked at a common surgery to fix injured shoulders usually resulting from a severe fall. The operation is not a shoulder replacement, nor is it to prevent dislocation. It’s called SLAP repair — SLAP being an acronym for Superior Labral Anterior and Posterior — and has been practiced since the 1980s.

The review comes at a time when doctors and patients are being urged to reduce tests and procedures that may not help them.

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“Whenever there’s a new surgery that’s developed I think the hardest part is, ‘Who needs the repair, who would benefit from a repair?’ I think we are still in that phase,” said Dr. Robert Ablove, one of the three men who reviewed the surgical records.

Ablove said these kinds of studies help create better standards to determine who really needs surgery and who doesn’t.