Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) Student Scholarship

Date Written

Fall 2014

Document Type


Course Number

NURS 5330

Course Name

Advanced Pathophysiology

Professor’s Name

John D. Chovan, James R. Cacchillo


Malignant Hyperthermia, Medical Emergencies

Subject Categories

Anesthesiology | Medical Pathology | Nursing


A crisis of malignant hyperthermia is a medical emergency, and must be treated immediately with a coordinated, multidisciplinary team response in order to give the patient the highest chance for a successful recovery (Dirksen, Van Wicklin, Mashman, Neiderer, & Merritt, 2013). Malignant hyperthermia is defined by Bandschapp & Girard (2012), as “a disturbance of the skeletal muscle calcium homeostasis, triggered by volatile anaesthetics and depolarizing muscle relaxants.” Once a vulnerable patient is exposed to one of these triggering agents, a pathologic hypermetabolic response ensues, and the patient has a rapid increase in oxygen consumption and expired carbon dioxide, hyperthermia, acidosis, muscle rigidity, and hyperkalemia (Bandschapp & Girard, 2012). The event of malignant hyperthermia is very rare, but can easily progress to a life-threatening situation (Cain, Riess, Gettrust, & Novalija, 2014). Many clinicians are unprepared to manage and treat the event because of its rarity and the use of low-frequency, high risk skill set (Cain, Riess, Gettrust, & Novalija, 2014). Dirksen, Van Wicklin, Mashman, Neiderer, & Merritt (2013), claim that malignant hyperthermia occurs in approximately 1:3,000-50,000 procedures in which general anesthetics are used.



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