Rhabdomyolysis or Rhabdo is the rapid breakdown of muscle tissue which leads to release of the breakdown products into the bloodstream. Some of these by-products, such as myoglobin, can damage the kidneys. Rhabdomyolysis can result from severe exertion of the muscle, crushing, lack of blood supply to the muscle (see also muscle death), metabolic disorders, extremes of body temperature, drugs, toxins, infection or autoimmune disorders. Some people are genetically disposed to developing rhabdo.
Rhabdo can be diagnosed through creatine kinase levels, high potassium levels, and low calcium levels. It should be assumed that anyone suffering severe crushing trauma will develop it. Patients should be given generous amounts of saline and monitored for imbalances in electrolytes.
It is this condition that crippled House as a result of a popliteal aneurysm that formed a thrombus, causing his leg muscles to undergo necrosis due to the lack of blood. House was given the option to amputate his leg, which he refused. He asked for a bypass surgery that would avoid amputation, but resulted in the rhabdomyolysis becoming life-threatening as the dead tissue started to re-circulate through his body. However, it was the only option that gave the possibility of a near full recovery as the leg healed around the necrosis. The pain became unbearable that he asked to be put under a chemical-induced coma. His girlfriend at the time Stacy Warner, his health proxy, opted to have the damaged tissue be surgically excised as an alternative while he was unconscious. The surgery saved House's life by removing the risk of rhabdo, but left him crippled and with chronic leg pain.
Rhabdomyolysis at Wikipedia - the featured article for September 20, 2011.