I’m scheduled to go in for back surgery next week, and my mother just told me that her sister died during surgery from what sounds like malignant hyperthermia. Should I cancel the surgery? (I guess I can just take pain medication the rest of my life.)

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Don’t cancel the surgery! Talk to your surgeon, and tell him or her about your suspicions. Emphasize that the surgical team, especially the anesthesiologist, must also be aware of the situation.

Malignant hyperthermia (MH) is a genetic abnormality that is triggered by certain types of anesthesia and other drugs, such as stimulants; strenuous exercise; and excessive environmental heat. Knowing prior to surgery that you may have MH increases your chances of successfully getting through an MH crisis should it occur.

The surgical team will avoid using anesthesia drugs that trigger MH and have an MH kit available in case you do show symptoms during or after surgery. The kit should contain Dantrolene, the only currently accepted treatment for MH, as well as lidocaine or a beta blocker to be prepared for possible cardiac arrhythmia. If you do have an MH episode, the team will give you fluids intravenously as well as orally when you are able. They can bring down your temperature by wrapping you in a cooling blanket.

Death or brain injury resulting from medical malpractice demands that the families of victims obtain justice. Contact the medical malpractice attorneys in Kentucky. Call Gray and White Law at 502-210-8942 or toll free at 888-450-4456 to set up a FREE, no-obligation consultation.