What is malignant hyperthermia?
Malignant hyperthermia is an inherited condition of the skeletal muscles that only becomes apparent on exposure to many of the commonly used general anaesthetic agents. When a person with this condition is exposed to these 'triggering agents', an abnormal process starts, which causes the muscle cells to become flooded with calcium ions, causing uncontrolled muscle contraction and energy consumption.
If this process is not stopped rapidly by withdrawal of these triggering agents and administration of the specific antidote, severe muscle damage or even death may occur. Severe complications from malignant hyperthermia are now rare because anaesthetists are trained to recognise and treat this condition. There are only four testing facilities in Australasia - located in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Palmerston North in New Zealand.
How do we help chldren who have malignant hyperthermia?
The Children's Hospital at Westmead Department of Anaesthetics offers a service to help chlidren with malignant hyperthermia.