Journal article Open Access
Litman, Ronald S.; Flood, Christopher D.; Kaplan, Richard F.; Kim, Yung Ly; Tobin, Joseph R.
Background: The initial presentation of malignant hyperthermia (MH) may begin in the postoperative period. However, the maximal latency period between the end of anesthesia care and the onset of postoperative MH is unknown. The authors hypothesized that this latency period is short and is not manifested by hyperthermia as the initial presenting sign. The authors sought to test this hypothesis and to describe the clinical characteristics of postoperative MH by analysis of suspected cases in the North American Malignant Hyperthermia Registry. Methods: Of 528 possible or suspected cases of MH in the North American Malignant Hyperthermia Registry, the authors identified 64 possible reports of postoperative MH. The records were reviewed in detail by the authors, each of whom assigned a qualitative score of "likely," "not likely," "not enough information available," or "not applicable" (where MH was not the final definitive diagnosis). Postoperative MH was confirmed after a consensus meeting of the three senior authors who reviewed in detail all possible "likely" cases. Results: The authors identified postoperative MH in 10 subjects. All received volatile agents and 5 also received succinylcholine. All demonstrated signs characteristic of acute MH, including generalized rigidity, hypercapnia and/or tachypnea, tachycardia, and hyperthermia. No subject demonstrated hyperthermia as the presenting sign. The latency period between the anesthesia finish time and the onset of a sign indicative of acute MH ranged from 0 to 40 min. Conclusions: Postoperative MH is uncommon, occurring in 10 of 528 suspected MH cases (1.9%) reported to the North American Malignant Hyperthermia Registry. Postoperative MH began shortly after completion of the anesthetic care. Hyperthermia was not a presenting sign of MH.