Sublabral foramen

Last revised by Dr Joachim Feger on 11 Jul 2022

A sublabral foramen is simply a focal detachment of the anterosuperior labrum from the underlying glenoid and constitutes a normal labral variant of no clinical significance 1-4.

On imaging, it might be confused with a SLAP lesion or an anterior labral tear 1.

Sublabral foramina are located anterosuperiorly and can extend down to but usually not below the level of the 3 o'clock position 1,3. It provides a communication between the glenohumeral joint and the subscapularis recess 1 and might be associated with a superior sublabral recess 1,4.

On MRI a sublabral foramen can be seen as a focal detachment anterosuperiorly between the 1- o’clock to 3-o’clock position up to one or rarely two axial sections below the midpoint at the level of the anterior glenoid notch 3.

Sublabral foramina are fairly frequent findings on MRI and might be found in up to 10-20% of normal patients 1,5,6. It is different from the superior sublabral sulcus or recess which can be found more superiorly underneath the long head biceps tendon origin 4. It might be also confused with a type II SLAP lesion or an anterior labral tear 3. Unlike those two the sublabral foramen is characterized by smoother contours, lacks significant displacement (>2 mm) and does not extend posteriorly past the insertion of the long head of the biceps tendon 3.

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Cases and figures

  • Figure 1: common labral injuries
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  • Case 1
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  • Case 2
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  • Case 2: annotated image
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  • Case 3
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