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Blood test developed for malignant hyperthermia

Experts have developed a blood test to determine the genetical predisposition for a rare condition// called malignant hyperthermia.

Malignant hyperthermia is an inherited disorder that can affect the patient during or after general anesthesia. This condition may be triggered by volatile anesthetics or depolarizing muscle relaxants that have to work together with a genetical predisposition to cause the condition. The symptoms often include tachycardia, arrhythmia and rising body temperature where muscles of the skeletal system get affected.

Previously it was impossible for physicians to know if the patients can be susceptible to the condition of malignant hyperthermia. So instead of prevention, importance were placed on treatment. With the new test, things are expected to change for both the anesthetist and the patient.

The new blood test, developed by researchers from The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, US, is effective in detecting 25 to 50 % of the mutations known that can make the patient susceptible to the condition. The effectiveness of the test is expected to increase with use. Once the anesthesiologist finds out that the patient may be susceptible to this condition, it will become possible to substitute the drugs for those that will not trigger the condition.

Reference: Journal of the American Medical Association, June 2005
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