What is malignant hyperthermia?

Malignant hyperthermia (MH for short) is a rare genetic disorder characterized by extreme body temperature elevation under general anesthesia. The incidence in adults is about 1 in 50,000 general anesthetics. Certain drugs such as the inhalation anesthetics and the drug succinylcholine are common triggers of this hypermetabolic state. The drug dantrolene is the antidote to this process. With dantrolene and other treatment measures the mortality has been decreased from 80% to 10%. Both Riverside and the Upper Arlington Surgery Center keep fresh supplies of this drug on hand for such an emergency. In patients with known MH or strong family histories, the triggering drugs are avoided during anesthesia. Since there is a strong inherited component, please let us know during the preoperative interview of  MH in your family. For more information consult  the Malignant Hyperthermia Association of the United States (MHAUS) web site: www.mhaus.org.