High-Dose Gamma Irradiation for Soft Tissue Allografts: High Margin of Safety with Biomechanical Integrity

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Screening and processing methods currently in place have made the risk of bacterial and viral infections from allograft tissues extremely low. However, the development of a terminal sterilization method that does not adversely affect tissue function would provide an added safety to tissues for transplantation. We assessed whether high-dose gamma irradiation could be used as an effective terminal sterilization method for allografts without impairing the preimplantation mechanical integrity of the tissues. Semitendinosus tendons were pretreated with a radioprotectant solution and then irradiated to 50 kGy under well-defined conditions that included a tight dose range and maintained low temperatures. Maximum force, strain, stress, modulus, and strain energy density for tendons irradiated to 50 kGy were compared to nonirradiated control tendons and tendons irradiated to 18 kGy by a commercial tissue bank using their existing method. The preimplantation biomechanical properties of the 50-kGy group compared favorably to the nonirradiated and 18 kGy groups. A study to evaluate the postimplantation mechanical and biological performance of grafts irradiated to 50 kGy is ongoing. Pathogen inactivation was also quantified following 50 kGy of irradiation, with ≥4.5 logs of Sindbis virus and 4.9 logs of parvovirus kill achieved. Analysis of Clostridium sordellii inactivation kinetics indicated that a 16 log10 reduction is predicted with 50 kGy of irradiation. A high dose of gamma irradiation using the described conditions can reduce infectious risks associated with soft tissue allografts while maintaining the preimplantation biomechanical performance of the tissues.

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