Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Episode of House Results in Diagnosis of Cobalt Poisoning from Metal Hip Implant as Source of Heart Failure, Blindness

Dr. Juergen Schaefer, who specializes in puzzling cases, is a big fan of the t.v. show "House."  In, 2012, in a case of life imitating art, he was presented with a case straight off the pages of the show.

According to The Lancet, a London-based medical journal, a German man presented at this clinic with strange symptoms that continued to worsen.  He had low thyroid levels, inflammation of his esophagus and fever.  His lost so much vision he was almost blind and so much hearing he was almost deaf.   His heart was so weak he could not supply enough blood to his body.  However, he did not have any problems with his arteries.

No one could diagnose the problem.

Remembering an episode of House, he recalled the same problems suffered by a woman played by the actress Candice Bergen.   So, Dr. Schaefer tested the man's cobalt level and determined that it was several times the level considered normal.  He then preformed a scan of the hip and determined that his metal hip had eroded.  The hip implant was removed, cobalt levels fell and his heart function improved; however, his eyesight and hearing barely got better.