Labral repair is a surgical procedure used to correct damage to the ring of cartilage (labrum) that surrounds the cup or socket in the shoulder joint for the end of the arm bone (humerus) to move smoothly and securely. This cartilage makes the shoulder joint much more stable, and allows for a very wide range of movements. In fact, the range of movements in the shoulder far exceeds any other joint in the body.

Understanding the procedure

Labral repair is most commonly performed arthroscopically using a tiny video camera inserted through a small incision in the shoulder. The camera transmits images of inside the joint to a monitor in the operating room and helps the surgeon identify the problem. Small instruments are inserted through additional incisions to then repair or remove the damaged cartilage until healthy tissue remains. Next, small anchors are placed into the shoulder socket bone (glenoid). These anchors are what will re-attach the cartilage to the bone. Most labral repairs require 2-3 anchors, depending on the location and size of the tear.

Indications for the procedure

This procedure is usually recommended when persistent pain and instability in the shoulder do not respond to more conservative methods, such as exercise and pain medication, and interfere with recreation and activities of daily living.