The popularity of allografts by surgeons for reconstruction has been growing rapidly. The use of allografts allows surgeons the ability to change the lives of their patients by helping them to avoid pain, trauma and the possibility of future procedures.
Much like the instruments used in by the surgeons, the allograft itself must also be sterile. It’s important to protect the patient from microbial contamination which can occur at many different stages – it can occur from an infected donor, during tissue collection, or during the processing of the allograft. While careful screening is done to ensure that all donor material is free from any pathogens, further sterilization must still take place.
Irradiation sterilization is the definitive method for eliminating microbial contamination of allografts. The sterilization process, however, must be completed so that the function and biological properties of the tissue are not affected. In this regard, some sterilization procedures work better than others. A study from Charité University Medicine Berlin found that high-dose E-beam sterilization has been shown to maintain the properties of an allograft better than Gamma. While both methods have been shown to sterilize the tissue, higher doses of Gamma were found to be detrimental to the integrity of the allograft.
In a similar study by the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and Community Tissue Services, it was found that E-beam sterilization was able to thoroughly sterilize the tissue while keeping the biomechanical properties of the tissue intact. In fact, there was no difference between the sterilized samples than the non-sterilized control allografts.
Irradiation is a safe and incredibly effective sterilization method for allografts. The precise nature of it has been effective in sterilizing all types of allografts including demineralized bone, human and porcine tissue as well as skin and amniotic membrane.