Malignant hyperthermia is a pharmacogenetic disease of skeletal muscle characterized by hypermetabolism that occurs on exposure to a triggering agent or agents. The most common agents are halogenated inhalational anesthetics and succinylcholine, a depolarizing muscle relaxant. Patients who experience malignant hyperthermia are generally transferred to the ICU for ongoing treatment and monitoring for secondary complications of the disorder. Critical care practitioners must be both knowledgeable and competent to prevent and treat perioperative episodes of malignant hyperthermia. A thorough preoperative interview should be done to determine risk factors and susceptible patients. This article provides critical care nurses with sound information on the pathophysiology of malignant hyperthermia, the ability to assess the disease properly and treat the patient both before and after the crisis, and the ability to provide support and teaching to patients and patients' families to prevent the recurrence of malignant hyperthermia.

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