DURING the last ten years, a number of reports identifying a new syndrome have been published. It has been variously described as malignant hyperpyrexia, malignant fever, profound hyperthermia, or fulminant hyperthermia. This syndrome occurs during general anesthesia and surgery and consists of a marked increase in oxygen consumption, prolonged generalized muscular rigidity, metabolic acidosis, hyperpotassemia, myoglobinemia, and temperature of 104 to 112 F. Not all these symptoms are found simultaneously in all patients.
Malignant hyperthermia is a rare but very serious complication. Stephen1 reports that rapidly progressive fulminant hyperthermia during anesthesia and surgery occurred in 12 patients, ten of whom died. Wilson et al2 report a 73% mortality.
The etiology of this entity is unknown. Possible causes include (1) genetic factors due to the presence of a certain dominant gene or genes of high degree of penetrance. Denborough et al3 describe a group of 38 relatives,
Snow JC. Malignant Hyperthermia During Anesthesia and Surgery. Arch Ophthalmol. 1970;84(4):407-408. doi:10.1001/archopht.1970.00990040409001