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Feb. 5, 2015 Volume 36, No. 18

Joint tissue storage method doubles preservation time

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Dr. James Cook leads the joint tissue research at MU’s Comparative Orthopaedic Laboratory and the Missouri Orthopaedic Institute. Photo courtesy of the School of Medicine.

Technology a ‘game-changer’ for patients with joint damage

Most doctors have to throw away more than 80 percent of donated tissue used for joint replacements because the tissue does not survive long enough to be transplanted. Now, MU School of Medicine researchers have developed a technology that more than doubles the life of the tissue.

That means more graft material of higher quality will be available for patients, said James Stannard, the J. Vernon Luck Sr. Distinguished Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery and co-author of the study.

“It’s a game-changer,” he said. “This will allow us as surgeons to provide a more natural joint repair option for our patients.”

In traditional preservation methods, donated tissue is stored within a medical-grade refrigeration unit in sealed bags filled with a standard preservation solution. The new technology, called the Missouri Osteochondral Allograft Preservation System, utilizes a newly developed preservation solution and special containers designed by the MU research team that allows tissue to be stored at room temperature.

In the study, clinical outcomes of the standard preservation approach and MU’s technology were compared. Researchers found that MU’s approach extended storage time to at least 60 days. Standard storage time is about 28 days.

“Time is a serious factor when it comes to utilizing donated tissue for joint repairs,” said study co-author James Cook, director of MU’s Comparative Orthopaedic Laboratory and the Missouri Orthopaedic Institute’s Division of Research.

“With our new preservation technique, we can offer more patients a repair that allows their joints to respond to daily activities like they did when the joints were healthy,” Cook said. “Like a normal joint, the implanted tissue can renew itself, resulting in decreased physical limitations to the patient.”

The study, “A Novel System Improves Preservation of Osteochondral Allografts,” was recently published in Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research, a publication of the Association of Bone and Joint Surgeons. A previous study concerning the development of the preservation system was published in the Journal of Knee Surgery in 2012.