The effect of donor age and low-dose gamma irradiation on the initial biomechanical properties of human tibialis tendon allografts

Am J Sports Med. 2008 Jul;36(7):1358-66. doi: 10.1177/0363546508314394. Epub 2008 Apr 9.

Abstract

Background: Most tissue banks recover and irradiate tibialis tendon allografts from donors aged up to 65 years. It is unknown whether donor age and low-dose gamma irradiation affect the initial biomechanical properties of tibialis allografts.

Hypothesis: Donor age up to 65 years and low-dose gamma irradiation do not significantly affect the initial biomechanical properties of tibialis allografts.

Study design: Controlled laboratory study.

Methods: One hundred twenty-six tibialis tendon allografts (63 pairs, 37 human donors) were divided into 3 age groups: young (<45 years), middle (46-55 years), and old (56-65 years). Within each age group, half of the paired tendons underwent tensile testing as single-strand grafts and the other half as double-strand grafts. One tendon from each donor pair was randomly assigned to undergo terminal sterilization with an absorbed dose of 1.46 to 1.80 Mrad (14.6-18.0 kGy) gamma irradiation, whereas the other tendon received no irradiation. All tendon grafts were preconditioned with a cyclic load and tested to failure in tension.

Results: Irradiated single-strand tendons in the old age group had a longer displacement at failure compared to the middle but not the young age group. Nonirradiated double-strand tendons in the old age group had a lower failure stress. Single-strand irradiated old tendons had a lower stiffness, and all irradiated young tendons and old double-strand tendons had a higher failure stress compared to nonirradiated tendons.

Conclusion: Donor age up to 65 years does not significantly affect the initial failure load, stiffness, or displacement at failure of tibialis allografts. An age-related decrease in failure stress was observed among nonirradiated tendons but not in tendons subjected to irradiation.

Clinical relevance: The results provide biomechanical evidence for use of tibialis allografts from donors up to 65 years of age. Low-dose gamma irradiation does not negatively influence the initial biomechanical properties of tibialis allografts. Further studies examining age and irradiation effects after submaximal cyclic loading conditions are recommended.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Gamma Rays
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Radiation Dosage
  • Tendons / physiology*
  • Tendons / radiation effects*
  • Tissue and Organ Procurement*
  • Transplantation, Homologous