Medicine: Inherited Hazard

Anesthetics can be given safely to most surgical patients. But for a small minority, anesthesia can trigger a rare hereditary disorder called malignant hyperthermia — a potentially lethal rise in body temperature. A group of Boston doctors reported recently in the New England Journal of Medicine that malignant hyperthermia can be brought under control by use of a heart-lung machine to cool the blood. But the condition can also be avoided by presurgical testing. Researchers have identified the genetic defect that causes the ailment and have devised a means of identifying victims: exposing...

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