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The diagnosis of an acute malignant hyperthermia reaction by clinical criteria can be difficult because of the nonspecific nature and variable incidence of many of the clinical signs and laboratory findings. Development of a standardized means for estimating the qualitative likelihood of malignant hyperthermia in a given patient without the use of specialized diagnostic testing would be useful for patient management and would promote research into improved means for diagnosing this disease.Using the Delphi method and an international panel of 11 experts on malignant hyperthermia, a multifactor malignant hyperthermia clinical grading scale comprising standardized clinical diagnostic criteria was developed for classification of existing records and for application to new patients.This scale ranks the qualitative likelihood that an adverse anesthetic event represents malignant hyperthermia (malignant hyperthermia event rank) and that, with further investigation of family history, an individual patient will be diagnosed as malignant hyperthermia susceptible (malignant hyperthermia susceptibility rank). The assigned rank represents a lower bound on the likelihood of malignant hyperthermia. The clinical grading scale requires the anesthesiologist to judge whether specific clinical signs are appropriate for the patient's medical condition, anesthetic technique, and surgical procedure.The malignant hyperthermia clinical grading scale is recommended for use as an aid to the objective definition of this disease. Its use may improve malignant hyperthermia research by allowing comparisons among well-defined groups of patients. This clinical grading system provides a new and comprehensive clinical case definition for the malignant hyperthermia syndrome.