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J Shoulder Elbow Surg. 2011 Jan;20(1):92-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jse.2010.05.013. Epub 2010 Sep 22.

Humeral head abrasion: an association with failed superior labrum anterior posterior repairs.

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Vanderbilt Sports Medicine, Nashville, TN, USA.



An abrasion on the humeral head under the articulating portion of the biceps tendon has been observed in patients with pain and stiffness after superior labrum anterior posterior (SLAP) repair. This study examined this humeral head abrasion (HHA) and its association with various diagnoses involving pathology of the biceps-labral complex. We hypothesized that it would be more common in failed SLAP repairs than other diagnoses.


A retrospective chart review was performed of 253 patients who underwent shoulder arthroscopy by a single surgeon during a 5-year period. Postoperative diagnoses were used to confirm one of the following diagnoses: failed SLAP repair, biceps tendonitis, SLAP lesion with biceps tendonitis, and isolated SLAP lesion. Operative reports and surgical images were analyzed to identify the presence or absence of HHA. Demographic data, including age, sex, handedness, and onset of injury, were also collected. The frequency of this lesion among the different diagnoses and patient characteristics was compared by χ² analysis.


HHA was observed in 13 of 18 patients (72.2%) with failed SLAP repairs, in 8 of 18 (44.4%) with biceps tendonitis, in 11 of 20 (55%) with SLAP lesion and biceps tendonitis, and in 1 of 71 (1.4%) with isolated SLAP lesions, significantly differing in frequency by diagnosis (P < .001). Patients with HHA were an older median age than those without (48 vs 40; P = .004).


HHA is common in patients with a pathologic biceps-labral complex, especially those with failed SLAP repair. We speculate that this lesion is due to inflammation of the biceps tendon resulting in increased biceps-humeral head contact pressure.

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