House S08EP12 “Chase”
This week on House, I am predicting an episode focusing on Dr. Chase, who was seriously injured during a scalpel fight last week. He and his patient, a nun about to take on her vows, develop a connection during her treatment. A complication throws a wrench into things, and Chase’s judgement becomes compromised. Not much to read from this capsule summary via Fox.com, but hopefully some infectious disease will emerge during the course of the evening. Check out the episode at 8 on Monday, and back for a recap and disease breakdown on Tuesday!
To recap the drama, the patient of the week is a nun about to enter into a cloistered convent, who has some unexplained pains in her upper arm. Chase becomes emotionally invested in her case, in part because of his accident last week, as well as his secret past history when he almost entered into the priesthood. The usual rollercoaster of patient complications ensues, which actually in this case helped to flesh out Chase’s character just a bit. The ultimate diagnosis today (after a brief foray into infectious disease with a potential fungal infection–False Alarm!) was giant cell arteritis, an inflammatory condition of the artery walls that can cause a variety of problems. This condition is frequently seen localizing in the arteries going to the head, consequently symptoms associated with it are headache, blurred vision, jaw pain, and fever. Complications of giant cell arteritis can include blindness, aortic aneurism, and stroke, so treatment for GCA is important. Ultimately the treatment, which is highly effective, is immunosuppressant doses of steroids to reduce the inflammation, and the symptoms generally resolve within days.
According to the National Institutes of Health, GCA is rather common with an incidence of 200 in 100,000 people over the age of 50 in the US developing the disease. Surprisingly, Moira (our nun on House) seemed significantly below this age threshold, suggesting that her case was atypical. Other risk factors besides age for developing GCA are gender (women are more susceptible than men) and ethnicity (Caucasians are more susceptible than others).