Supercritical Carbon Dioxide–Sterilized Bone Allograft in the Treatment of Tunnel Defects in 2-Stage Revision Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction: A Histologic Evaluation

Published:December 19, 2017DOI:


      To examine the histologic properties of supercritical carbon dioxide (sCO2)–sterilized bone allograft for tunnel grafting and determine in vivo graft quality, as well as graft incorporation and remodeling, in 2-stage revision anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) surgery.


      Histologic evaluation was performed in 12 subjects undergoing 2-stage revision ACL reconstruction. In the first stage, the femoral and tibial tunnels were debrided, tunnel dimensions were measured, and tunnels were grafted with sCO2-sterilized bone allograft. In the second stage, revision ACL reconstruction was performed and bone biopsy specimens were taken from the tibia. Tissue, bone, and graft volumes were measured, and histomorphometric analysis was performed.


      The mean time between the 2 stages was 8.8 months (range, 5.6-21.3 months). In the second stage, bone graft material was easily identified by its necrotic appearance comprising mature lamellar bone devoid of osteocyte nuclei within osteocyte lacunae. In all tissue samples, host-bone apposition of predominantly mature lamellar bone was noted on the surface of graft fragments in keeping with “creeping substitution.” In several regions in 3 cases, osteoblastic and osteoclastic activity was evident in keeping with ongoing creeping substitution and remodeling. The mean bone volume over tissue volume was 68% (range, 33%-92%), and the mean graft volume over bone volume was 41% (range, 19%-70%). The mean graft volume (8 cases) harvested at less than 7 months (44%; 95% confidence interval, 31.4%-56.8%) was not significantly different than the mean graft volume (4 cases) harvested at greater than 10 months (34%; 95% confidence interval, 14.3%-54.2%; P = .214).


      The sCO2-sterilized bone allograft showed graft incorporation and remodeling through creeping substitution.

      Clinical Relevance

      The initial bone apposition and graft fragment bridging appear to provide a strong environment for ACL graft fixation resulting in technically successful 2-stage revision ACL reconstruction.
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