Health A-Z

Medical Content Created by the Faculty of the Harvard Medical School



It is not practical to test for this condition in all people who are scheduled for surgery. However, some people should be tested before surgery. Or, they should avoid anesthetics that are known to cause this condition.

These include people with:

  • A family history of malignant hyperthermia

  • A history of heat stroke or hyperthermia after exercise

  • Muscle abnormalities that may be associated with malignant hyperthermia

If you do not have a family history of malignant hyperthermia, your first episode may not be predictable or preventable.

Once you have been diagnosed with the disorder, further episodes can be prevented. Notify your health care professional before you undergo any surgery or office-based procedure. That way, your doctor or dentist can avoid using succinylcholine or high-risk anesthetics.

You don't have to avoid surgery altogether. Many safe alternative anesthetics are available. If you know that you are susceptible to malignant hyperthermia, consider wearing a medical alert tag. This tag will advise health care personnel about your condition during an emergency.

If you plan to travel outside the United States, you can contact the Malignant Hyperthermia Association of the United States (MHAUS). MHAUS will help to determine whether doctors at your travel destination are aware of malignant hyperthermia and equipped to treat it. This is a sensible precaution because it is a rare disease.

Page 5 of 9     Next Page:  Malignant Hyperthermia Treatment
Click here to to redeem your SparkPoints
  You will earn 5 SparkPoints
From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

You can find more great health information on the Harvard Health Publications website.