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TV's 'Dr. House' helps to solve a real-world medical mystery

PARIS -- 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.

But this time the sleuthing did not happen on the small screen but in real life, The Lancet reported on Friday.

Thanks to an episode in “House,” doctors at a German clinic were able to save a 55-year-old man who was in a serious and baffling decline.

The patient had been referred to Marburg's Center 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.

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