How Often Do You Have a Patient That Has Malignant Hyperthermia?

I was doing some research on deaths while having a breast augmentation surgery done since it's the procedure i'll be getting soon. In 2008, a 18 year old died bc of MH (malignant hyperthermia). How often does a PS come across these patients, and if it is suspected during the surgery how quickly does the PS have to react. I understand that it's rare, but now I'm terrified. How do you know if you have it?The operating surgeon was a BOARD CERTIFIED PLASTIC SURGEON! anesthesiologist was performing.

Doctor Answers 7

Malignant hyperthermia

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I am very familiar with the case of which you speak as it happened in the community in which we practice.  It was  a tragedy and an extremely unexpected occurence.  Malignant hyperthermia is extremely rare and most anesthesiologists and surgeons will have entire careers and never see it.  If you are worried there are treatments available and ask the operative center if they have had MH drills and ask your anesthesiologist if theyr are familiar with the diagnosis and treatment of this condition.  The survival rate is 90% or better if your doctors know how to diagnose and treat it. 

West Palm Beach Plastic Surgeon

Treating Malignant Hyperthermia

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Malignant hyperthermia is a very rare complication of some medications we use during general anesthesia. Any certified surgical center, nowadays, they are required to have the medication necessary to treat malignant hyperthermia. The most important drug is called Daantrolene, it is very effective in treating malignant hyperthermia. Although the chance is very rare, if a patient chooses to have surgery in a certified facility, even if an episode of malignant hyperthermia occurs it can be successfully treated and will not lead to a disastrous outcome. So it is very important to choose a certified doctor that operates in a certified facility to decrease the risks of surgery.

Complications of Cosmetic Surgery Anesthesia

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Malignant Hyperthermia is exceptionally rare. In 42 years since medical school, I have never seen a case or heard of a case at any hospital where I practiced. In spite of that, every hospital has a Malignant Hyperthermia emergency kit in the OR in order to treat it if it occurs. I personally do not worry about reacting to it since I use Board Certified Anesthesiologists for any surgery where this is a possibility, including Breast Augmentation.. They are always vigilant and can react much quicker than I could.

Robert T. Buchanan, MD
Highlands Plastic Surgeon

Malignant hyperthermia is rare but manageable

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I have never seen one. I don't think I know of a colleague that had one, either. But every properly accredited surgical facility should have an MH kit available in case of an emergency. You can ask about your facility's MH protocols and how they go about avoiding or detecting MH. Sincerely, Martin JUGENBURG, MD

Martin Jugenburg, MD
Toronto Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 521 reviews

Malignant hyperthermia during breast augmentation

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The incidence (rate of occurrence) of malignant hyperthermia is not known, but is relatively rare.  It is a reaction to general anesthesia that is the result of a genetic defect which may be new in that patient, or can be inherited from a parent.  If one parent has the defect the child has a 50 : 50 chance of being at risk, therefore any close family history of unusual reactions to general anesthesia should always be told to your surgeon and anesthesiologist.  As far as I know, there are no diagnostic tests available which are recommended to screen the general public.

Symptoms of malignant hyperthermia may be recognized by the surgeon or anesthesiologist, so it is important that they both be board-certified and in a facility equipped to treat malignant hyperthermia if it occurs.

My response to your question/post does not represent formal medical advice or constitute a doctor patient relationship. You need to consult with i.e. personally see a board-certified plastic surgeon in order to receive a formal evaluation and develop a doctor patient relationship.

Craig S. Rock, MD
Houston Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 29 reviews

Very rare occurrence

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Malignant hyperthermia is an extremely rare occurence, and I am not even certain there are exact statistics specifically for the case of breast augmentation surgeries.  It can occur while having general anesthesia and has nothing to do with how well your surgeon, or your anesthesiologist for that matter, is trained or whether or not they are board certified.  The important thing to know is that they would know how to identify it and treat it quickly.  The usual treatment for malignant hyperthermia is Dantrolene.  It is important to know if you are having a board certified anesthesiologist performing your anesthesia and that your surgeon is  familiar with this condition.    Malignant hyperthermia is not something you would know you have - it would occur while you are asleep and it can be life threatening if not recognized. 

It is very common to become extremely anxious prior to surgery and to start to think about all the things that can go wrong.  Although a certain level of anxiety such as this is healthy beforehand, you do not want to make yourself too upset or get too preoccupied with things which are extremely rare occurrences, particularly if you are confident that you are in good hands with your surgeon!


Brian S. Glatt, MD, FACS
Morristown Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 59 reviews

Malignant Hyperthermia Risk?

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Thank you for the question.

Malignant hyperthermia is a rare life-threatening condition usually triggered by exposure to certain drugs used for  general anesthesia. Susceptibility to malignant hyperthermia  is  often inherited as an autosomal dominant disorder. Malignant hyperthermia is usually revealed by anesthesia or when a family member  develops the symptoms.

The incidence is 1:5000 to 1;50,000-100,000  procedures involving general anesthesia.

Treatment involves the intravenous administration of dantrolene,  discontinuation  of triggering agents, and supportive therapy (directed at correcting hyperthermia, acidosis, and organ dysfunction).

It would be in your best interest to be taken care of by a board-certified plastic surgeon, a board-certified anesthesiologist, in a fully accredited facility prepared to manage any number of unusual medical emergencies.

I hope this helps.

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.