(Vienna, 03 July 2019) Malignant Hyperthermia (MH) is a rare hereditary metabolic disorder of the skeletal musculature (prevalence approximately 1:35,000). Often the predisposition to Malignant Hyperthermia does not make itself apparent in everyday life. However, under anaesthesia, it can lead to life-threatening adverse events, which can prove fatal, even today. It is only possible to determine whether a person has this predisposition by taking a small piece of muscle tissue and putting it through a special test (in vitro contracture test) in a MH centre – such as the one at MedUni Vienna/Vienna General Hospital.
Since the mid-1970s, the Division of Specialist Anesthesia and Pain Medicine of the Medical University of Vienna/Vienna General Hospital has been one of the few European centres for research into and diagnosis of Malignant Hyperthermia, and the only one in Austria. As Hans Georg Kress, Chairman of the Division, points out, since standardisation of the complex testing method in accordance with the protocol of the European Malignant Hyperthermia Group in 1985, more than 1,500 patients from throughout Austria but also from countries where no testing is possible (e.g. Romania, Croatia, Kuwait) have been tested at the Pharmacogenetics Clinic of the Division of Specialist Anesthesia and Pain Medicine. In addition, for more than 10 years now, the Division has also offered genetic testing for Malignant Hyperthermia, if the genetic variant is known.
Following a several-day, on-site quality assessment by representatives from the European Malignant Hyperthermia Group (EMHG), the European MH Meeting has now recognised the Pharmacogenetics Clinic of the Division of Specialist Anesthesia and Pain Medicine as one of nine centres in the whole of Europe certified for testing for Malignant Hyperthermia.