Mechanical Properties of Tendons: Changes With Sterilization and Preservation

[+] Author and Article Information
C. W. Smith, I. S. Young, J. N. Kearney

Department of Pure and Applied Biology, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, U.K. Yorkshire Regional Tissue Bank, Pinderfields General Hospital, Wakefield, W. Yorks, WF1 4DG, U.K.

J Biomech Eng 118(1), 56-61 (Feb 01, 1996) (6 pages) doi:10.1115/1.2795946 History: Received August 27, 1993; Revised January 04, 1995; Online October 30, 2007


Tendon allografts are commonly used to replace damaged anterior cruciate ligaments (ACL). Some of the sterilization and preservation techniques used by tissue banks with tendon allografts are thought to impair the mechanical properties of graft tissues. The tensile mechanical properties of porcine toe extensor tendons were measured using a dynamic testing machine following either freezing, freeze-drying, freezing then irradiation at 25 kGy (2.5 MRad), freeze-drying then irradiation, or freeze-drying then ethylene oxide gas sterilization. There was a small but significant difference in Young’s modulus between the frozen group (0.88 GPa ± 0.09 SD) and both the fresh group (0.98 GPa ± 0.12 SD) and the frozen irradiated group (0.97 GPa ± 0.08 SD). No values of Young’s modulus were obtained for the freeze-dried irradiated tendons. The ultimate tensile stress (UTS) of the freeze-dried irradiated group (4.7 MPa ± 4.8 SD) was significantly different from both the fresh and the frozen irradiated groups, being reduced by approximately 90 percent. There were no significant changes in UTS or Young’s modulus between any of the other groups. If irradiation is to be used to sterilize a tendon replacement for an ACL it must take place after freeze-drying to maintain mechanical properties.

Copyright © 1996 by The American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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