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What is malignant hyperthermia?
Malignant hyperthermia is a severe reaction to particular drugs that are
often used during surgery and other invasive procedures. Specifically, this
reaction occurs in response to some anesthetic gases, which are used to block
the sensation of pain, and with a muscle relaxant that is used to temporarily
paralyze a person during a surgical procedure. If given these drugs, people at
risk for malignant hyperthermia may experience muscle rigidity, breakdown of
muscle fibers (rhabdomyolysis), a high fever, increased acid levels in the blood
and other tissues (acidosis), and a rapid heart rate. Without prompt treatment,
the complications of malignant hyperthermia can be life-threatening.
People at increased risk for this disorder are said to have malignant
hyperthermia susceptibility. Affected individuals may never know they have the
condition unless they undergo testing or have a severe reaction to anesthesia
during a surgical procedure. While this condition often occurs in people without
other serious medical problems, certain inherited muscle diseases (including
central core disease and multiminicore disease) are associated with malignant