Reports surfaced today that Patriots superstar TE Rob Gronkowski will be undergoing another surgical procedure to determine if the infection that had been found previously has cleared. There is growing concern that after his most recent 6 week bout of antibiotics, according to the Boston Herald, the infection has not fully cleared from the hardware and/or surrounding tissue.
The Boston Herald report also stated that the decision to have the surgery to remove the surgical plate, which was originally placed to stabilize the radius that Gronkowski fractured on November 18th, has not been made yet. The idea is that they will go in to see first if the infection has spread to the surrounding tissue (fascia/muscle/bone) and if the hardware itself has been compromised.
What happens with the metal hardware when infection is involved is that a layer of film is left on the hardware by the bacteria that is resistant to the antibiotics the individual is taking. So this round of medication Gronk has been on will kill the bacteria in the surrounding tissue, but it won’t have any effect on the infected hardware. This basically creates a vicious cycle of antibiotics killing the infected surrounding soft tissue, bacteria staying on the hardware, and remaining bacteria re-infecting the surrounding soft tissue. The only way to stop this cycle is to go in a take out the hardware, rid the surrounding tissue of the infection, and then re-plate the fractured site.
Worst case scenario will have Gronk out a minimum of 10-12 weeks, mainly because they can’t re-plate the fractured site without waiting for the infection to clear and there is no timetable for that. This would significantly jeopardize Gronk’s chances of being ready for training camp and the start of the season.
Best case scenario is not finding any significant infection in the surrounding soft tissue, re-plating the forearm right away, and continuing with the rehab process. This process could take anywhere from 6-8 weeks and almost guarantee he’ll be ready to start the season.
No matter what the result, doctors still have to wait a week or two to determine if the infection has cleared and whether surgery will be required, according to USA Today. Expect more information to come out in the upcoming weeks, but regardless, this is not great news for fantasy owners hoping for Gronk to regain the form that has made him the preeminent tight end over the last 3 seasons. And even worse news for shameless Patriots fans like me.