Walk with someone else's tendons thanks to cryogenics

A technique of cryopreservation of grafts developed in France in the context of ligament transplantation, allows grafts to be preserved for up to 10 years and to limit the risk of rejection.

The Department of orthopaedic surgery and traumatology at Sainte-Marguerite Hospital in Marseille (France) has developed, in conjunction with the Hospital of Versailles (France), a particularly innovative technique of ligament transplants.

It is intended for patients with so-called multiligament injuries, which can cause dislocation of the knee, that is to say a complete loss of contacts between the femur and the tibia. In most cases, these patients are victims of motorbike or bicycle accidents, or more rarely high-level athletes who have suffered a very violent shock on the knee.

For these patients, who are often young (about 200 people per year in France), the risk of loss of mobility and disability is obvious. Only solution: a ligament transplant from tendons taken from deceased donors. The number of donors is low, so it is essential to find a technique to preserve the tendon several months or even years after the donor’s death.

The cryopreservation technique used by surgeon Matthieu Ollivier, which was recently published in the American Journal of Sport Medicine, is based on the use of nitrogen vapour at -140°C. It allows the ligaments to be frozen for a period of five to ten years, with a much lower risk of rejection than with other techniques such as freezing at -40°C, which can leave certain viruses or bacteria in the cells, requiring administration of antibiotics to the patient.

For further information, please follow the links below.