Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey
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Malignant hyperthermia is a dangerous, rapid rise in body temperature due to internal issues. It is most often caused by certain medications, especially anesthesia medication.
People can have a tendency to have malignant hyperthermia which is known as malignant hyperthermia susceptibility.
Malignant hyperthermia susceptibility is often caused by a specific gene mutation. Only 1 parent has to have the defective gene for the child to inherit the susceptibility.
A malignant hyperthermia event is caused by abnormal levels of calcium in the muscle. The change in calcium causes an increase in metabolism. Heat is a side-effect of metabolism.
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The abnormal levels of calcium often are triggered by medications used for anesthesia such as:
Malignant hyperthermia occurs most often in children and people who are Caucasian or of Northern European descent.
The main risk factor is having a family history of malignant hyperthermia.
Symptoms may begin after medication is given and include:
Malignant hyperthermia is an emergency. It is often suspected based on symptoms and recent anesthesia administration.
Malignant hyperthermia susceptibility may be suspected based on your medical and family history. If you have a positive family history, then your doctor may test you for the susceptibility with:
If the condition was triggered by a certain anesthetic, it will be stopped and/or changed.
Emergency care will be given and may include:
Kidney and heart tests may also be done to look for any potential complications from the hyperthermia event.
Make sure all of your doctors are aware of your susceptibility to malignant hyperthermia or any family history of malignant hyperthermia.
If you think there may be malignant hyperthermia susceptibility in your family, talk to your doctor about genetic testing as part of your family planning process.
American Association of Neuromuscular and Electrodiagnostic Medicine
Malignant Hyperthermia Association of the United States
CORD—Canadian Organization for Rare Disorders
FAQs: General MH questions. Malignant Hyperthermia Association of the United States website. Available at: http://www.mhaus.org/faqs/category/frequently-asked-questions-about/about-mh/. Accessed September 1, 2017.
Malignant hyperthermia. American Association of Neuromuscular and Electrodiagnostic Medicine website. Available at: http://aanem.org/Patients/Disorders/Malignant-Hyperthermia. Accessed September 3, 2015.
Malignant hyperthermia. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115406/Malignant-hyperthermia. Updated March 4, 2016. Accessed September 1, 2017.
Malignant hyperthermia FAQ. Wake Forest Baptist Health website. Available at: http://www.wakehealth.edu/Anesthesiology/Malignant-Hyperthermia/Malignant-Hyperthermia-FAQ.htm#who%20gets. Updated June 28, 2016. Accessed September 1, 2017.
Malignant hyperthermia. Patient UK website. Available at: http://patient.info/doctor/malignant-hyperthermia. Updated October 15, 2014. Accessed September 1, 2017.
Testing for MH. Malignant Hyperthermia Association of the United States website. Available at: http://www.mhaus.org/testing. Accessed September 1, 2017.
Last reviewed September 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board James P. Cornell, MD Last Updated: 9/3/2015