House S07EP17 “Fall From Grace”

Boys' Night Out?

Getting down to the final set of episodes before we go on break for the summer. And for those of you keeping track, Thirteen should be coming back with episode 18! This week on House, according to

A young homeless man who is a former drug addict is found in a park showing signs of olfactory impairment and horrific scars and burn marks on his chest. With an uncertain identity and the patient’s severely worsening conditions, the team looks to the patient’s personal records and family history in order to understand his detachment. Plus some more House/Cuddy “shipping” for those of you looking for character development.

Let’s see what the Internet can turn up for us prior to the episode, with the actually pretty descriptive phrase “olfactory impairment.” According to, there are 21 different causes of that symptom, including:  rhinitis, anatomic blockage of nares, head trauma, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, head trauma, nasal tumor or polyps, cerebral tumor, radiotherapy, cocaine use, sarcoidosis, Multiple sclerosis, Wegener’s granulomatosis, aging, smoking, inhaled irritants, hypothyroidism, hypoadrenalism, diabetes. House would say that most of those are boring, although the burns might suggest a smoking problem. Let’s check back again on Monday at 8!

I don’t know about the rest of you, but House (the character) is seeming just a wee bit sad to me. I’m getting kind of tired of this mechanism of striking out, and hope that we can move past it soon. In summarizing the patient’s diagnosis, Ferris Beuller exhibited a number of symptoms going through the episode, including synethesia, masses on the colon, foreign objects in the colon (bones,) spots on an MRI, and continued neurological issues. In the running at the end was the terminal diagnosis of early onset Parkinson’s (see above!!) but that gets shot down when House comes to the realization that the majority of the symptoms appeared while the patient was in hospital care, and none were resolving while in care. This leads him to conclude that the cause of the symptoms was the food that Ferris was being given, specifically the healthy leafy green vegetables. The final diagnosis was Adult Refsum disease, a genetic disorder which affects the ability to degrade chlorophyll containing compounds. It was confirmed by a DNA analysis, the results of which [SPOILERS] the final scene.

Refsum disease is an autosomal recessive disease, which occurs due to the inabililty of the body to break down certain long chain fatty acids originally derived from plant material. Humans however lack the ability to break down chlorophyll into phytanic acid naturally, so therefore the most significant source is not the leafy green vegetarian meals that Ferris was being fed in the hospital, but rather fats from ruminant animals and fish. I will have to call “Bogus” on the dietary link as presented in the episode, but the treatment (plasmapheresis) is the preferred immediate treatment to alleviate symptoms. I will also have to call “Bogus” on the apparent ability of Ferris to get up and leave the hospital following all of this, once the [SPOILERS] at the end of the episode.


About ycpmicro

My name is David Singleton, and I am an Associate Professor of Microbiology at York College of Pennsylvania. My main course is BIO230, a course taken by allied-health students at YCP. Views on this site are my own.

Posted on March 20, 2011, in Bogus!, House Party!. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on House S07EP17 “Fall From Grace”.

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