The recommendations for storage temperature of allogeneic bone are varying between -20 °C and -70 °C and down to -80 °C. The necessary temperature of storage is not exactly defined by scientific data, and the effect of different storage temperatures onto the biomechanical and the biological behavior is discussed controversially.
The historical development of storage temperature of bone banks is described. A survey on literature concerning the biomechanical and biological properties of allograft bone depending on the procurement and storage temperature is given as well as on national and international regulations on storage conditions of bone banks (European Council, American Association of Tissue Banks (AATB), European Association of Tissue Banks (EATB)).
Short-term storage up to 6 months is recommended with -20 °C and -40 °C for a longer period (AATB), and EATB recommends storage at -40 °C and even -80 °C while the regulations of the German German Medical Association (Bundesärztekammer) from 2001 recommend storage at -70 °C. Duration of storage at -20 °C can be maintained at least for 2 years. The potential risk of proteolysis with higher storage temperatures remains, but a definite impairment of bone ingrowth due to a storage at -20 °C was not shown in clinical use, and no adverse biomechanical effects of storage at -20 °C could be proven.
Biomechanical studies showed no clinically relevant impairment of biomechanical properties of cancellous bone due to different storage temperatures. Sterilization procedures bear the advantage of inactivating enzymatic activity though reducing the risk of proteolysis. In those cases a storage temperature of -20 °C can be recommended for at least a period of 2 years, and the risk of undesired effects seems to be low for native unprocessed bone.