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Association between known or strongly suspected malignant hyperthermia susceptibility and postoperative outcomes: an observational population-based study


Purpose — Whether current standards of care management for malignant hyperthermia (MH)-susceptible patients result in acceptable postoperative clinical outcomes at a population level is not known. Our objective was to determine if patients with susceptibility to MH experienced similar outcomes as patients without MH susceptibility after surgery under general anesthesia.

Methods — This was a retrospective, population-based cohort study from 1 April 2009 until 31 March 2016 in the Canadian province of Ontario. Participants were adults who underwent common in- or outpatient surgeries under general anesthesia. The exposure studied was either known or strongly suspected MH susceptibility as determined by usage of a specific physician billing code. The primary outcome was a composite of all-cause death, hospital readmission, or major postoperative complications, all within 30 postoperative days. Separate analyses were employed, based on whether a patient had in- or outpatient surgery. Inverse probability of exposure weighting based on the propensity score was used to estimate adjusted exposure effects.

Results — The cohort included 957,876 patients (583,254 in- and 374,622 outpatients). There were 2,900 (0.3%) patients with a known or strong suspicion of MH susceptibility. For inpatients, the primary outcome occurred in 146,192 (25.1%) of the non-MH-susceptible group and in 337 (20.1%) of the MH-susceptible group (unadjusted risk difference [RD], −5.0%; 95% confidence interval [CI], −6.9 to −3.1%; P < 0.001). In outpatients, the primary outcome occurred in 9,146 (2.4%) of the non-MH-susceptible group and in 32 (2.6%) of the MH-susceptible group (RD, 0.2%; 95% CI, −0.7 to 1.1%; P = 0.72). After adjustment, MH susceptibility was not associated with the primary outcome in either the inpatients (adjusted risk difference [aRD], 1.2%; 95% CI, −1.3 to 3.6%; P = 0.35) or outpatients (aRD, −0.1%; 95% CI −1.0 to 0.9%; P = 0.90).

Conclusions — Among adults in Ontario who underwent common surgeries under general anesthesia from 2009 to 2016, known or strongly suspected MH was not associated with a higher risk of adverse postoperative outcomes. These findings support the current standard of care management for MH-susceptible patients.



Jones PM, Allen BN, Cherry RA, Dubois L, Vogt KN, Shariff SZ, Bray Jenkyn KM, Riazi S, Wijeysundera DN. Can J Anaesth. 2019; 66(2):161-81. Epub 2018 Nov 12.

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