Fresh Osteochondral Allograft Transplantation: Is Graft Storage Time Associated With Clinical Outcomes and Graft Survivorship?

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Regulatory concerns and the popularity of fresh osteochondral allograft (OCA) transplantation have led to a need for prolonged viable storage of osteochondral grafts. Tissue culture media allow a longer storage time but lead to chondrocyte death within the tissue. The long-term clinical consequence of prolonged storage is unknown.


Patients transplanted with OCAs with a shorter storage time would have lower failure rates and better clinical outcomes than those transplanted with OCAs with prolonged storage.

Study Design:

Cohort study; Level of evidence, 3.


A matched-pair study was performed of 75 patients who received early release grafts (mean storage, 6.3 days [range, 1-14 days]) between 1997 and 2002, matched 1:1 by age, diagnosis, and graft size, with 75 patients who received late release grafts (mean storage time, 20.0 days [range, 16-28 days]) from 2002 to 2008. The mean age was 33.5 years, and the median graft size was 6.3 cm2. All patients had a minimum 2-year follow-up. Evaluations included pain, satisfaction, function, failures, and reoperations. Outcome measures included the modified Merle d’Aubigné-Postel (18-point) scale, International Knee Documentation Committee (IKDC) form, and Knee Society function (KS-F) scale. Clinical failure was defined as revision OCA transplantation or conversion to arthroplasty.


Among patients with grafts remaining in situ, the mean follow-up was 11.9 years (range, 2.0-16.8 years) and 7.8 years (range, 2.3-11.1 years) for the early and late release groups, respectively. OCA failure occurred in 25.3% (19/75) of patients in the early release group and 12.0% (9/75) of patients in the late release group (P = .036). The median time to failure was 3.5 years (range, 1.7-13.8 years) and 2.7 years (range, 0.3-11.1 years) for the early and late release groups, respectively. The 5-year survivorship of OCAs was 85% for the early release group and 90% for the late release group (P = .321). No differences in postoperative pain and function were noted between the groups. Ninety-one percent of the early release group and 93% of the late release group reported satisfaction with OCA results.


The transplantation of OCA tissue with prolonged storage is safe and effective for large osteochondral lesions of the knee and has similar clinical outcomes and satisfaction to the transplantation of early release grafts.

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