• Germany's news in English
 
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

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

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Löw aims for Euro 2016 with new-look Germany
Joachim Löw holding the World Cup trophy. File photo: DPA

Löw aims for Euro 2016 with new-look Germany

World Cup winners Germany have suffered something of a hangover since their triumph in Brazil, but coach Joachim Löw is hoping a new-look side can go on to claim more glory at Euro 2016. READ  

T-Mobile to pay $90 mn over US fraud charges
Photo: DPA

T-Mobile to pay $90 mn over US fraud charges

German mobile phone company T-Mobile has agreed to pay at least $90 million to settle US government claims that it bilked customers with bogus charges, US regulators said Friday. READ  

Ethics Council rejects assisted suicide law
Photo: DPA

Ethics Council rejects assisted suicide law

The German Ethics Council said the law should not be changed to permit assisted suicide in a paper published on Friday. READ  

Abandoned themepark needs 14m says Berlin
Swan Lake. An abandoned ride in the Spreewald pleasure park. Photo: DPA

Abandoned themepark needs 14m says Berlin

The iconic ruined themepark in the centre of Berlin - a long-time favourite of hipster adventurers - needs a clean-up costing at least 14 million euros, the Berlin government has revealed. READ  

Police nab Nuremberg station bomb hoaxer
File photo of Nuremberg main station: Shutterstock

Police nab Nuremberg station bomb hoaxer

Officers in Nuremberg arrested a man on Thursday evening after he called in a false bomb threat against the main train station READ  

Opinion
Angela, David...and Nigel
So near...and yet so far Photo: DPA

Angela, David...and Nigel

The rise of UKIP broke up what had been a good 2014 for Cameron and Merkel. READ  

'Dr Death' corpse museum gets go-ahead
Dr Gunther von Hagens. Photo: DPA

'Dr Death' corpse museum gets go-ahead

A Berlin court has said that infamous human taxidermist Gunther von Hagens can open a museum in the capital - over objections from local officials. READ  

Presented by Phorms Education
Phorms bilingual schools boast top-notch tech
Photo: Phorms Education

Phorms bilingual schools boast top-notch tech

As parents fret over children’s internet habits, a network of bilingual schools in Germany shows that putting computers in the classroom from an early age yields positive results. READ  

Networks scramble to patch mobile security
Chancellor Angela Merkel has herself been the victim of phone hacking. Photo: DPA

Networks scramble to patch mobile security

IT experts led by Berlin-based Karsten Nohl said on Thursday they had discovered security flaws in the mobile phone networks that would allow attackers to read users' messages. READ  

Turkish 'spies' arrested at Frankfurt airport
Photo: DPA

Turkish 'spies' arrested at Frankfurt airport

Three men suspected of being Turkish agents have been arrested by police, federal prosecutors said on Thursday. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Willy Brandt at his inauguration in 1972. Photo: DPA
National
Willy Brandt: the man, the chancellor... the airport?
Dresden skyline and river by night. Photo: DPA
Politics
What does Dresden have against Muslims?
Sponsored Article
Why are these International Baccalaureate students cheering?
Germany's national football team lifts the World Cup trophy
Gallery
Germany's most-Googled words of 2014
National
Why has The Local got a new logo?
Photo: DPA
National
This German was abducted and tortured by the CIA
Culture
10 top tips for partying in Germany
Sponsored Article
Top ten gifts for an expat Christmas
Photo: DPA
Technology
What does the Chancellor see as the future of the internet?
Photo: DPA
Culture
Stuff your face with these festive German cookies
Photo: DPA
Culture
What do beer, breakfast cereal and dildos have in common?
Culture
The Local's guide to German Christmas markets
Sponsored Article
Top five quirky Christmas jumpers
Photo: DPA
Culture
Get ready for Christmas like a German. We tell you how.
Photo: DPA
Munich
She did what with her dead mother?
Photo: DPA
National
Germany still paying for crisis fall out
Photo: DPA
Culture
Saxon wurst is the worst, Christmas market declares.
Photo: DPA
Politics
Can 'sorry' ever be enough for the Linke?
Sponsored Article
Shop Christmas gifts at Debenhams international store
Photo: DPA
Berlin
The Local's series on 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall
Shutterstock
Sponsored Article
Offer: Unlimited airmiles through December 19th
Photo: DPA
Gallery
See how Berlin has changed in 22 photos
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
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

3,228
jobs available
The Local Spain is hiring!
The Local is seeking a new editor for our site in Spain to join our growing team of internationally-minded, driven, ambitious and clued-up journalists.
Details and how to apply
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd