Breathe everybody, there’s still a pretty solid chance Gronk is there opening day.
While the potential back surgery is viewed as minor, it would still be surgery, and if that’s the way it unfolds, that will be five surgeries for Gronkowski since November (four on his left forearm, one on his back). That represents a lot of stress on Gronkowski’s temple in a short period of time. Yet if things go according to plan, Gronkowski wouldn’t miss any regular-season games if he has to undergo back surgery. So while it would be easy to go all gloom-and-doom, that’s not the sense I get from some folks close to the situation.
Mike D note - guest post today from @1crazyPatsfan, clarifying just what’s going on with Gronk’s infection.
Now, I am NOT a doctor and I will not claim to know how his physicians are handling his case so any information stated in this rant of mine is for general information only. I am however a microbiologist at a major hospital and have a lot of experience with bacteria and infections. So we all know that Gronk broke his arm on an extra point and required surgery to stabilize the bone. He then healed and broke it again and required another surgery. Then there was the news that Gronk was battling an infection and could need ANOTHER surgery. Man, he just can’t catch a break right? So what happened? How did he get this infection? Well, there are many ways he could have gotten it such as improperly cleaned surgical equipment or unsanitary operating conditions but the most likely culprit is bacteria that lives on the skin and snuck in when they opened up his arm again. Now, outside the body this bacteria is relatively harmless and even beneficial. Once introduced into the body, the bacteria, more specifically a species of Staphylococcus or “Staph” for short, can wreak havoc. These bacteria have special mechanism of resistance to antibiotics called “biofilms”. Biofilms are super sticky and love to hang out on prosthetics (like the plate holding his arm together). Since the bacteria are so sticky, it is very hard for antibiotics to do their job, and it takes a while to clear the infection. Once cleared though, the problem of the plate remains. That is why Gronk will need another surgery to remove the plate. If the tainted plate is still in his arm, it is very likely that there are bacteria still sticking to it, so it needs to come out. After the old plate is removed and before a new one is inserted, the doctor will send the laboratory pieces of the flesh and bone around the break to be cultured to see if the bacteria are still present. If all goes well, we will have a healthy Gronk ready in about 4 months or so.
Questions? Comments? I am @1crazyPATSfan on twitter
The fourth surgery had been considered “very likely” since Gronkowski sustained an infection in the left forearm earlier this year. Assuming the infection has been eradicated, the fourth surgery would replace the plate in Gronkowski’s forearm, and the estimate for a recovery would be about 10 weeks, sources previously told ESPNBoston.com. The 10-week estimate would put Gronkowski’s return around the start of training camp.
According to a source familiar with the case, Gronkowski is going to need a fourth operation to change the plate that’s securing the broken bone in the forearm. While there has been some suggestion recently that this step might be avoided, the source indicated the fourth operation still has to happen. The plate has to be switched, no matter what, and the surrounding tissue tested. The real question is if Gronkowski, who has been taking part in the team’s offseason program, will need a fifth operation. If tests show the infection has been completely flushed out, the plate will be replaced, and the recovery process begins. If there are still signs of infection, that won’t happen.
Gronkowski has been working in the Patriots’ offseason program, and for what it’s worth, one opinion from someone who has seen him is that he “looks great.” A month ago, surgery was seen as “very likely” but there has always remained a chance that it could be avoided. At this point, there have been no unexpected setbacks; however, as Gronkowski has already learned, things can always change quickly.
According to multiple sources familiar with the situation, tight end Rob Gronkowski has been battling a stubborn infection in the area around where a second metal plate was installed to repair his broken left forearm and his readiness for the season is in jeopardy.
PatsPropaganda is written and edited by Mike Dussault. He is an unapologetic homer and a card-carrying Belichickian. He has a soft spot for hard core X's and O's, and believes in "throw to score, run to win", low pad level, and touchdown celebrations that last two weeks.
He is a Patriots Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report, and his work has been featured on FoxSports.com, Yahoo Sports, and SI.com. He also co-hosts the weekly PatsPropaganda & Frenz Podcast with Bleacher Report's AFC East Editor Erik Frenz.
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