Thursday, November 13, 2008

Celiac on the House

Source (0:30)

The doctor who is the title character of House is a jerk. But at least he knows from celiac disease! The oft-misdiagnosed condition played an important part in the November 9, 2006 episode "Forever"—and it also came up in the November 11, 2008 episode "The Itch" (Season 5, Episode 7) according to a recap by Charmaine P. Dennis.

One of the medical clues that raised the question of celiac disease was villous atrophy; another was peripheral neuropathy. According to the Fox TV episode summary, House rejects the conventional strategy of starting diagnosis with a celiac blood panel and instead orders the following diagnostic technique: "force-feed the patient wheat, then do an endoscopy as it hits his duodenum to see if there's an allergic reaction." Sounds very radical to me—it seems part of the goal to make the patient experience symptoms—and I'm not even sure it's possible. But what do I know? I'm just a layperson. Is there a doctor in the house? If so, feel free to chime in!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm a public health PhD working with lots of MDs, but not terribly relevant to this.

Celiac isn't an allergy; it's an autoimmune disease. Allergies with sudden responses are more dramatic, but they don't sound as serious or exotic as celiac disease: thus the sensible choice by the writers to use the term celiac disease, look for an allergy, and include unnecessarily high tech equipment.