Short-term vancomycin and buffer soaking does not change rabbit achilles tendon tensile material properties


      • The effect of antibiotic soaking on tendon sub-failure material properties is unknown.
      • Tensile tests with short-term soaking times and with or without antibiotics.
      • Elastic modulus, toe-region length, and transition stress evaluated.
      • Short term soaking time (30 min or less) did not affect material properties.
      • Soaking solution (saline or saline and antibiotics) did not affect properties.



      Allograft tendons are commonly used during orthopedic surgery to reconstruct tissue that is severely damaged. Soaking the tendon in an antibiotic solution, specifically vancomycin, has been shown to lower the risk of post-operative infections. While some material properties of tendon and ligament after antibiotic soaking have previously been characterized, extensive sub-failure allograft tendon material properties after soaking in antibiotic solutions have not.


      Forty tendons were dissected from rabbits and soaked in either a phosphate buffered saline (PBS) only solution or vancomycin and PBS solution for five or 30 min. Immediately after soaking, quasi-static tensile experiments were performed in a materials testing system.


      Tissue nominal stress, Lagrange strain, toe-region properties and elastic modulus were characterized. For all forty tendons, the average elastic modulus was found to be 455 ± 37 MPa, the average transition strain (from toe-region to linear elastic region) was 0.0487 ± 0.0035, and the average transition stress was 9.71 ± 0.79 MPa. No statistically significant differences in any of these material properties were found across soaking medium or soaking time.


      From these results, we conclude that soaking an allograft tendon in antibiotic solution for up to 30 min prior to implantation does not change the tensile material properties of tendons, supporting current clinical practice.


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