• Germany edition
 
German doctors save man thanks to 'House'
Dr Gregory House, played by Hugh Laurie. Photo: pa/obs/L'Oréal Paris

German doctors save man thanks to 'House'

Published: 07 Feb 2014 10:20 GMT+01:00
Updated: 07 Feb 2014 10:20 GMT+01:00

For a year, the patient suffered from a range of worsening symptoms that left doctors stumped.

His heart started failing, his sight and hearing deteriorated, he suffered from acid reflux, swollen lymph nodes and an inexplicable fever. The outlook was grim.
   
Only Dr Gregory House, TV's misfit medical genius, could solve the mystery: the cause was an eroded prosthetic hip.
 
The Lancet reported on Friday that the patient had been referred to Marburg's Centre for Undiagnosed Diseases in May 2012.
   
Poring over his medical history, the team found a past that was uneventful - apart from a double hip replacement.
   
They pounced on this detail. Recalling an episode from the seventh season of "House", the team began to suspect cobalt poisoning, probably from a worn hip implant.
   
Scans and blood tests confirmed the suspicion and the patient soon had his metal prosthesis replaced by a ceramic one.
   
"Shortly after the hip replacement, the patient's plasma (blood) cobalt and chromium concentrations decreased and the patient stabilized and recovered slightly," the case report said.
   
By July last year, 14 months after the operation, his heart function improved to 40 percent, the fever was gone and so was the acid reflux. The patient had by then received a defibrillator to aid his damaged heart.
   
His hearing and vision, unfortunately, recovered only slightly, said the report.
 
Not only entertaining, also life-saving
 
"It was helpful for me that I was aware about the cobalt problems thanks to Dr House," team leader Jürgen Schäfer told AFP, while stressing that other
diagnostic tools were brought into play as well.
   
"All this demonstrates nicely that well-performed entertainment is not only able to entertain and educate, but also to save lives."
   
"House" is the story of a grumpy and cynical diagnostician who specializes in solving medical mysteries that other doctors cannot crack.
   
He is based on Sherlock Holmes, whose character was in turn inspired by real-life 19th century Scottish doctor Joseph Bell who, like House, used deductive reasoning as a diagnostic tool.
   
Schäfer said he was a fan of the TV show and had been using episodes from the series, based on real cases, as part of his lectures for several years now, "to attract my students' attention for rare or unusual diseases".
   
He has been dubbed the "German Dr House" by colleagues, students and the media.
   
Schäfer said his centre has treated at least five other patients with cobalt poisoning, though with less severe symptoms.
   
"There must be more awareness to the potential side effects of metal implants in humans," he said.
   
The case report added that cobalt poisoning in hip replacement patients was "an increasingly recognized and life-threatening problem".
   
Erosion of a replacement hip, often the result of a botched operation or dodgy prosthesis, can release toxic metals into the blood stream.
   
Cases of heart failure as a result of cobalt poisoning are rare and have in the past mainly been observed in steel workers and heavy consumers of a specific Quebec beer that was found in the 1960s to have had cobalt sulfate added for foam stability.
 

For more stories about Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Manhunt on for police officer's killer
Photo: DPA

Manhunt on for police officer's killer

A police officer was shot dead in the street in western Germany on Wednesday night, prompting a manhunt for the culprit. READ  

'Auschwitz criminal,' 89, dies ahead of extradition
Photo: DPA

'Auschwitz criminal,' 89, dies ahead of extradition

An 89-year-old American and alleged Nazi war criminal died just hours before a US court approved his extradition to Germany, his lawyer said late on Wednesday. READ  

Robots could take half German jobs
The employee of the future? Photo: DPA

Robots could take half German jobs

More than half of the jobs currently being done in Germany could be taken over by robots in the next 20 years, according to a think tank. READ  

Germany puts 700,000 WWI docs online
Prisoners of War pictured in 1918. Photo: Bundesarchiv/Bild 183-S45825

Germany puts 700,000 WWI docs online

Hundreds of thousands of rare records and images from World War I have been put online by the German government, ahead of Monday's 100th anniversary of the start of the conflict. READ  

Merkel to push for 'swift' EU Russia sanctions
Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Vladimir Putin chat with Fifa President Sepp Blatter (c) in Brazil before the 2014 World Cup final. Photo: DPA

Merkel to push for 'swift' EU Russia sanctions

UPDATE: Russia's failure to help quell the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine and fully assist the investigation into the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 demanded a tough response, a German government spokesman said on Wednesday. READ  

Löw to remain Germany coach to 2016
Joachim Löw (l) during a coaching session in Brazil. Photo:DPA

Löw to remain Germany coach to 2016

UPDATE: Joachim Löw will remain German national football team coach following the World Cup victory in Brazil, he confirmed on Wednesday. READ  

Pressure on police over anti-Semitic protests
A pro-Palestine demonstration in Berlin on Tuesday. Photo: DPA

Pressure on police over anti-Semitic protests

Demands are growing in Germany for the prosecution of protesters in Berlin, Frankfurt and other cities who led anti-Semitic chants and incited violence against Jews over Israel's military offensive in Gaza. READ  

The Local List
The 12 best words in the German language
Photo: DPA

The 12 best words in the German language

The Local List has covered all aspects of German words, from the untranslatable to the longest. But we've never done a ranking of what are simply the best words in the German language, until now... READ  

Munich police find 49 refugees on one train
Police arrested three Italians for allegedly driving 25 Syrians into Germany on Tuesday. Photo: Bundespolizei

Munich police find 49 refugees on one train

Police in Munich found 49 refugees on one train which arrived at the city’s central station from Italy on Monday night. Officers in the Bavarian capital have reported a “huge increase” in the number of people arriving illegally over the last few weeks at Munich's train terminal. READ  

Yoga helped Jogi's boys bring World Cup home
Coach Joachim Löw ensured his team had a yoga instructor with them at all times. Photo: DPA

Yoga helped Jogi's boys bring World Cup home

Germany’s World Cup winning football team have revealed one of the secrets of their success in Brazil this summer – yoga. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Photo: DPA
Politics
View from Germany: 'Nobody will win in an economic war with Russia'
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
Jobtalk: How innovative is Germany?
Photo: DPA
Gallery
German Bucket List: How many of these can you tick off?
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Joachim Löw: A career in pictures
Photo: Submitted
Society
Is this expat cat the world's oldest?
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Germany's week in pictures: July 12th - July 18th
Photo: DPA
National
Heatwave to bring highs of 36C to Germany
Photo: DPA
Analysis & Opinion
Should Germany follow France and ban the burqa?
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
Which workers is Germany short of?
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Ten best expat jobs in Germany: Which one would you choose?
Photo: Europeana.de 1914 - 1918
Gallery
A German soldier's life behind WWI lines
Photo: Shutterstock
Features
Some of the most embarrassing mistakes you can make in German
Education
Raising the bar for law & business in Germany
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
Photo: DPA
Features
The Local List Archive - Your guide to all things German
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Sponsored Article
CurrencyFair: Why it pays when making overseas transfers
Sponsored Article
Bilingual school turning education on its head
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,236
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd