Clinical Presentation, Treatment, and Complications of Malignant Hyperthermia in North America from 1987 to 2006


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Abstract

BACKGROUND:We analyzed cases of malignant hyperthermia (MH) reported to the North American MH Registry for clinical characteristics, treatment, and complications.METHODS:Our inclusion criteria were as follows: AMRA (adverse metabolic/musculoskeletal reaction to anesthesia) reports between January 1, 1987 and December 31, 2006; “very likely” or “almost certain” MH as ranked by the clinical grading scale; United States or Canadian location; and more than one anesthetic drug given. An exclusion criterion was pathology other than MH; for complication analysis, patients with unknown status or minor complications attributable to dantrolene were excluded. Wilcoxon rank sum and Pearson exact χ2 tests were applied. A multivariable model of the risk of complications from MH was created through stepwise selection with fit judged by the Hosmer-Lemeshow statistic.RESULTS:Young males (74.8%) dominated in 286 episodes. A total of 6.5% had an MH family history; 77 of 152 patients with MH reported ≥2 prior unremarkable general anesthetics. In 10 cases, skin liquid crystal temperature did not trend. Frequent initial MH signs were hypercarbia, sinus tachycardia, or masseter spasm. In 63.5%, temperature abnormality (median maximum, 39.1°C) was the first to third sign. Whereas 78.6% presented with both muscular abnormalities and respiratory acidosis, only 26.0% had metabolic acidosis. The median total dantrolene dose was 5.9 mg/kg (first quartile, 3.0 mg/kg; third quartile, 10.0 mg/kg), although 22 patients received no dantrolene and survived. A total of 53.9% received bicarbonate therapy. Complications not including recrudescence, cardiac arrest, or death occurred in 63 of 181 patients (34.8%) with MH. Twenty-one experienced hematologic and/or neurologic complications with a temperature <41.6°C (human critical thermal maximum). The likelihood of any complication increased 2.9 times per 2°C increase in maximum temperature and 1.6 times per 30-minute delay in dantrolene use.CONCLUSION:Elevated temperature may be an early MH sign. Although increased temperature occurs frequently, metabolic acidosis occurs one-third as often. Accurate temperature monitoring during general anesthetics and early dantrolene administration may decrease the 35% MH morbidity rate.

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