Rob Gronkowski Injury: Latest Buzz on Patriots Star's Possible Surgery

Donald WoodFeatured ColumnistMay 9, 2013

FOXBORO, MA - DECEMBER 30: Rob Gronkowski #87 of the New England Patriots warms up prior to the game against the Miami Dolphins during the game at Gillette Stadium on December 30, 2012 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski broke his left forearm in the Divisional Round of the NFL playoffs last year, and there are still serious questions about his Week 1 status for the 2013 season after doctors found an infection in the star’s arm this April.

Now, the latest report claims that Gronkowski will not only need a fourth surgery, but also possibly a fifth operation if the infection he is battling doesn’t subside, according to Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald:

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.

That directly contradicts a report from Shalise Manza Young of the Boston Globe that states the decision on whether a fourth surgery is needed or not will be made in two weeks:

A league source said Wednesday night that a call will be made in two weeks whether to replace the second metal plate that was put in Gronkowski’s arm in January. That is the timeline because that is when Gronkowski is scheduled to finish his antibiotic therapy.  

ESPN Boston insider Mike Reiss also reported on the need for another surgery, but says that no confirmation of another operation has been made and the timetable to make the decision is still a few weeks away:

Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski is still a couple of weeks away from having a definitive answer as to whether he will need a fourth surgery on his left forearm, according to sources. The last month has been more of a “wait-and-see” period, with Gronkowski essentially buying more time for doctors to determine if the infection has cleared. 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.

While it is still very unclear whether or not Gronkowski will need another surgery on his broken forearm, it’s obvious that he is still dealing with an infection serious enough to delay any idea of operating.

Instead of operating on Gronk's forearm immediately, the doctors have decided to administer a long process of antibiotics to fight off the infection before the next possible surgery.

If another operation is needed, it would be to remove the plate doctors installed to connect the broken bones in the tight end’s arm (h/t the Boston Herald).

On top of his initial operations to repair the break, Gronkowski also underwent surgery on the arm in February to battle an infection, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter:

Now, just as it has been since the Patriots’ star initially injured his forearm, New England and the NFL must play the waiting game.

Whether Gronkowski misses regular-season time or if he is back for opening day, the top priority for the franchise and the tight end himself should be getting back to 100 percent health.

The Patriots need the Gronk healthy over the next decade more than they need him for Week 1 in 2013.