The Effect of Donor Age on Structural and Mechanical Properties of Allograft Tendons

Purpose: Allograft tendons are commonly used in surgical ligament reconstruction. While it is commonly accepted that donor age will affect mechanical properties of graft tissue, the apparent age threshold is unknown.


  • 550 allograft posterior tibialis tendons were examined. Linear stiffness, ultimate tensile force, ultimate displacement, tensile modulus, ultimate tensile strength, and ultimate tensile strain were calculated for specimens from donors in each of 6 age groups: 15-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, 60-69, and 70-79 years.
  • The central ‘‘flat’’ region of the tendon was used for analysis.
  • Comprehensive biomechanical comparison of the initial properties of posterior tibialis allograft tendons to determine an appropriate donor age threshold for reconstructive procedures.
  • Posterior tibialis tendons from all age groups displayed structural properties superior to the native anterior cruciate ligament, with higher stiffness and ultimate force, and less displacement to failure.

Take Away: Donor age has only a minor, if any, influence on the structural and mechanical properties of allograft posterior tibialis tendons. The age of the donor will not likely affect the suitability of a graft for use in surgical reconstruction

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Swank, Katherine R., BA, Anthony W. Behn, MS, and Jason L. Dragoo, MD. "The Effect of Donor Age on Structural and Mechanical Properties of Allograft Tendons." The American Journal of Sports Medicine (2014): n. pag. Sage Publishing, 17 Nov. 2014. Web. 20 Jan. 2015.