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Doctor House Helps Diagnose Man’s Cobalt & Chromium Poisoning

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TV show helps with diagnosisMany people enjoyed watching Dr. House solve mysterious ailments over the eight seasons it ran on the Fox network. Although fictional, many of the medical cases that were portrayed in the show were based on real illnesses that plague the human body. In a strange turn of events, real-life doctors in Germany credit the show with helping them save the life of one of their patients.

Dr. House To The Rescue

When a 55-year old man in Germany was referred to their clinic from his regular physicians, doctors at Philipps University of Marburg’s clinic were stumped by his symptoms. The man was diagnosed with heart failure, with his heart only pumping blood at a fraction of the normal rate. In addition, the man had suddenly begun to lose his eyesight and hearing, had a fever and many other seemingly unrelated problems. It was a perfect case for Dr. House.

The doctors at the clinic remembered a patient with similar symptoms on an episode of House. One of the character’s mother on the show had heart problems that were related to metal poisoning. The source of the poisoning turned out to be her artificial metal hip implant that had been continuously releasing the toxic metals into her system. This prompted the doctors of the sick man in Germany to investigate this theory as a possible cause. Turns out Dr. House was right; the man was suffering from cobalt and chromium poisoning from his metal hip implant.

Severity Of Cobalt & Chromium Poisoning

Even though all the symptoms of the man in Germany are common with metal toxicity, it is not odd that his doctors did not see the correlation. Outside of occupational exposure, cobalt and chromium poisoning are rare, which is why most doctors would not necessarily test for toxic levels in a patient. However, these cases are becoming less rare as people with failing metal hips are being exposed to these toxic metals from their implants.

Several metal-on-metal hip implants have been recalled in the U.S. For premature failure. This is partially due to fretting and corrosion of the metal components that can release cobalt and chromium into the body. Although these partials may be small, the metals are extremely toxic in the system and can cause many serious ailments and even death. Heart and kidney failure, neurological problems, blindness, deafness, and many other issues are linked to metal poisoning.

The patient in Germany was treated for metal poisoning and his metal implant was removed. However, over a year later, the man still has toxic levels of chromium and cobalt in his system and still has impaired sight and hearing. While House may have saved his life, the effects of the metal poisoning from his metal hip continue to detract from his quality of life as well as many other hip implant victims all over the world.

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