ACL Surgery at Penn Highlands

Innovative ACL Tear Surgery Offers Faster Recovery

Penn Highlands Healthcare is home to one of only two physicians in the U.S. to offer an innovative ACL tear surgery for the repair of injured anterior cruciate ligaments (ACLs). The fertilized ACL technique for ACL repair is changing how athletes and others recover from ACL tear surgery.

How the Fertilized ACL Tear Surgery Works

ACL tears are a common orthopedic injury, with more than 100,000 people each year experiencing a tear. During traditional ACL tear surgery, the orthopedic surgeon drills two sockets or tunnels into the patient’s bones—one in the femur (the bone above the knee) and one in the tibia (the bone below the knee). The surgeon then positions a tendon taken from another part of your knee or a deceased donor. This is called a graft. The surgeons uses the tunnels to accurately position the graft and then attach it to the bones with screws. Over time, new ligament tissue grows over the graft.

However, traditional ACL tear surgery has a high rate of reinjury, either in the same knee or the opposite knee, which can overcompensate while the reconstructed ACL heals. Between 6% and 11% of patients will reinjure the graft.

To help patients recover faster and reduce the rate of reinjury, Dr. Matthew A. Varacallo, medical director of orthopedic robotic surgery at Penn Highlands in DuBois, helped pioneer a new procedure for ACL tear surgery called the “fertilized ACL” technique. During the fertilized ACL procedure, the surgeon injects a mixture of stem cells from the patient’s bone marrow mixed with bone graft into the tunnels to stimulate healing and encourage faster and stronger ligament growth.

Dr. Varacallo, who was named to the “Top 65 Total Knee Replacement Surgeons to Know” by Beckers' ACS Review, is one of only two surgeons in the U.S. currently performing the fertilized ACL tear surgery technique.

Doctor Photo In Network
Varacallo, Matthew A., MD, MBA, FAAOS

Orthopedics / Orthopedic Surgery

Sports Medicine


Penn Highlands Orthopedics and Sports Medicine - DuBoisA Service of Penn Highlands DuBois

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Have you injured your ACL? Call Penn Highlands Orthopedics and Sports Medicine today to schedule an appointment: 814-375-6200.


What are the benefits of fertilized ACL tear surgery?

The benefits of fertilized ACL tear surgery are faster recovery and lower risk of reinjury. Dr. Varacallo has seen patients who have the fertilized technique recover in half the time they would have with traditional ACL tear surgery. In Clearfield High School athlete Cayleigh Walker’s case, that meant being able to punt a soccer ball six weeks after surgery compared to the three or four months her physical therapist expected. Read Cayleigh’s story.

Where is fertilized ACL tear surgery performed?

Dr. Varacallo is the only surgeon in Pennsylvania who performs fertilized ACL tear surgery and one of only two surgeons who currently perform the surgery in the U.S. Dr. Varacallo’s office is at Penn Highlands Orthopedics and Sports Medicine in the Medical Arts Building, 145 Hospital Avenue Suite 311, DuBois, PA. He performs fertilized ACL tear surgery, which is an outpatient procedure, at Penn Highlands DuBois.

Will I need physical therapy after fertilized ACL tear surgery?

Yes. Rehabilitation is just as important as surgery when it comes to recovering from an ACL tear and returning to activity, especially sports. Physical therapy generally begins about one to two weeks following surgery and is aimed at reducing pain and swelling, regaining function, and building strength. Your physical therapist will guide you through supervised stretches and exercises and may use other techniques, such as aquatic therapy, massage, icing and taping.

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