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A few months ago, I received an unusual call from the MH Hotline who connected me to an anesthesiologist and OR team who were desperately trying to manage a Malignant Hyperthermia crisis. They were frantic and clearly trying to stabilize a patient experiencing a severe MH episode. The patient was an athletic older teenager undergoing an elective orthopedic surgical procedure on the ankle. Anesthesia was being conducted with the commonly used gas anesthetic sevoflurane and Succinylcholine had not been used.
The World Congress of Anesthesia is a meeting of anesthesiologists representing many countries that convenes in a different country every four years.
In the episode, the young patient undergoing emergency surgery develops elevated levels of carbon dioxide, increased heart rate and elevated temperature. The anesthesiologist recognizes the signs and informs the team of the problem. One of the OR personnel is dispatched to obtain ice and the anesthesiologist whips out a vial of dantrolene, injects it and waits for the signs of MH to respond.