Muscle death or myopathy, a form of necrosis, is the result of a lack of blood to a muscle resulting in the muscle eventually ceasing to become a living cell. As dead tissue, the muscle then starts to rot, causing gangrene, poisoning the bloodstream and eventually resulting in the death of the patient unless the dead muscle is removed. Several things can cause muscle death, such as a lack of blood due to an infarction or a severe infection such as Necrotizing fasciitis. It is most commmonly seen in severe frostbites.
If the underlying cause is treated before too much muscle dies, the body will be able to process the dead tissue through the liver. However, if it becomes too widespread, amputation is the only sure method of preventing the death of the patient. Otherwise, the dead muscle tissue will overwhelm the body's other organs, particularly the liver.
Fortunately, muscle death is very rare, but its symptoms are not unique to the condition. As a result, it is difficult to diagnose.
Gregory House suffered from muscle death after his infarction. Instead of agreeing to amputation, he attempted to treat the condition by having the arteries that fed the muscle bypass it, restoring circulation to still living tissue while slowing the entry of dead tissue into the blood stream, hoping that the muscle would heal and allow him the use of most of his leg. However, the procedure was very painful during the recovery period and he agreed to be put into an induced coma. During his coma, his medical proxy, his girlfriend Stacy, instead had the dead muscle removed entirely.
The delay in diagnosis and the removal of the muscle both weakened House's right leg and left him with chronic pain. It also cost him his relationship with Stacy.