• 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
Wolf spotted in North Rhine-Westphalia
File photo: DPA

Wolf spotted in North Rhine-Westphalia

Camera traps have spotted a wolf for the second time in a month in North Rhine-Westphalia, the state environment ministry reported on Friday. READ  

German ranchers murdered in Paraguay
Paraguayan police on patrol in an area known to contain EPP rebels. File photo: DPA

German ranchers murdered in Paraguay

The Foreign Ministry in Berlin confirmed that two Germans living in Paraguay were kidnapped and killed earlier this week. READ  

AfD braces for busy conference weekend
"Vote AfD!" reads the flyover message. Photo: DPA

AfD braces for busy conference weekend

As leaders of the Germany's anti-Euro upstart party Alternative for Germany (AfD) prepare for its party conference this weekend, the potential for chaos is rising. READ  

Sudden dose of winter causes traffic chaos
Snow in Oberharz. Photo: DPA

Sudden dose of winter causes traffic chaos

UPDATE: Two people were rescued from avalanches as a blast of winter has taken Germany by surprise, while snow and ice accounted for several traffic accidents across the country on Friday. READ  

BND collects 220 million phone records a day
Photo: DPA

BND collects 220 million phone records a day

Germany's foreign intelligence agency, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) collects 220 million pieces of information about foreign phone calls and SMS every day, Zeit Online reported on Friday. READ  

U-turn on minimum wage for foreign drivers
Photo: DPA

U-turn on minimum wage for foreign drivers

Germany temporarily hit the brakes Friday on applying its new minimum wage to foreign truck drivers transiting the country in a move welcomed by Poland, which vigorously opposed the system. READ  

Crises make Germany EU foreign policy leader
Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier. Photo: DPA

Crises make Germany EU foreign policy leader

Foreign policy think-tank the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) gave Germany top marks in its annual check-up of EU member states released on Thursday. READ  

Prost! Beer sales hop up for first gain in 8 years
Photo: DPA

Prost! Beer sales hop up for first gain in 8 years

New figures released Friday by federal statistics office Destatis are numbers breweries can drink to, as German beer consumption saw its first year-on-year rise since 2006. READ  

Germany has thousands of uni spots open
Photo: DPA

Germany has thousands of uni spots open

New research published by Spiegel on Friday shows that there are thousands of university placesa unoccupied across the country, while certain hot spots cope with too much demand. READ  

Borussia coach admits to 'downward spiral'
Borussia Dortmund coach Jürgen Klopp at a press conference. Photo: DPA

Borussia coach admits to 'downward spiral'

Borussia Dortmund coach Jürgen Klopp admits feeling the pressure as his side resume their fight to stay in Germany's top flight on Saturday at fellow Champions League side Bayer Leverkusen. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Business & Money
FATCA: 'The age of financial privacy is over'
Gallery
The best regional foods TTIP opponents want to protect
Photo: DPA
Features
The rise and spread of Pegida
Photo: Shutterstock
Culture
This cosplayer did not think his plan through
National
Europe in statistics - from Spain to Sweden
Photo: DPA
Politics
The Local's report from Pegida's largest ever demonstration.
Sponsored Article
Top-notch tech boosts bilingual schools
National
Six stories that will rock Germany this year
Photo: DPA
National
Terror alert at a new high. Should you be worried?
Dresden skyline and river by night. Photo: DPA
Politics
What does Dresden have against Muslims?
Photo: DPA
National
What were your favourite news stories of 2014?
Gallery
Top 12 German idioms
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
Photo: DPA
Technology
What does the Chancellor see as the future of the internet?
Photo: DPA
Berlin
The Local's series on 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall
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

3,462
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd