Effects of freezing on the biomechanical and structural properties of human posterior tibial tendons

Sandro Giannini, Roberto Buda, Francesco Di Caprio, Patrizia Agati, Adriana Bigi, Viviana De Pasquale, Alessandro Ruggeri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This work analyzes the effects of storage by fresh-freezing at -80°C on the histological, structural and biomechanical properties of the human posterior tibial tendon (PTT), used for ACL reconstruction. Twenty-two PTTs were harvested from eleven donors. For each donor one tendon was frozen at -80°C and thawed in physiological solution at 37°C, and the other was tested without freezing (control). Transmission electron microscopy (TEM), differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) and biomechanical analysis were performed. We found the following mean changes in frozen-thawed tendons compared to controls: TEM showed an increase in the mean diameter of collagen fibrils and in fibril non-occupation mean ratio, while the mean number of fibrils decreased; DSC showed a decrease in mean denaturation temperature and denaturation enthalpy. Biomechanical analysis showed a decrease in ultimate load and ultimate stress, an increase in stiffness and a decrease in ultimate strain of tendons. In conclusion fresh-freezing brings about significant changes in the biomechanical and structural properties of the human PTT. A high variability exists in the biophysical properties of tendons among individuals and in the effects of storage on tendons. Therefore, when choosing an allograft tendon, particular care is needed to choose a biomechanically suitable graft.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)145-151
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Orthopaedics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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