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Anesthesia: Malignant Hyperthermia Response

Topic Overview

Malignant hyperthermia is a rare, inherited (genetic) disorder that is potentially fatal. It can be triggered by exposure to certain anesthetics or muscle relaxants.

The disorder is caused by a reaction in muscle that leads to activation of the muscles. This causes a very high body temperature and the breakdown of muscle tissue.

Anesthesia specialists can usually detect malignant hyperthermia early and treat it immediately. If it happens, malignant hyperthermia typically occurs during anesthesia or shortly after the surgery.

You may have an increased chance of getting malignant hyperthermia if:

  • You or a family member may have had malignant hyperthermia before.
  • You have a disease that affects the muscles.

You can have a test to help find out if you have an increased chance of getting this disorder.

If a person who is at possible risk of malignant hyperthermia needs anesthesia, the condition can be safely and completely avoided by choosing anesthetics that do not trigger malignant hyperthermia.

You can get more information about malignant hyperthermia from the Malignant Hyperthermia Association of the United States (MHAUS). Go to the website at www.mhaus.org.

Related Information

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer John M. Freedman, MD - Anesthesiology
Current as of September 4, 2013

Current as of: September 4, 2013

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