Open Access Research article

The effect of succinylcholine on malignant hyperthermia events in susceptible swine

Frank Schuster1*, Stephan Johannsen1, Susanne Moegele1, Thomas Metterlein2, Norbert Roewer1 and Martin Anetseder3

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Anaesthesia and Critical Care, University of Wuerzburg, Oberduerrbacher Straße 6, D-97080 Wuerzburg, Germany

2 Department of Anaesthesiology, University of Regensburg, Regensburg, Germany

3 Department of Anaesthesia, Hospital Landshut-Achdorf, Landshut, Germany

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BMC Anesthesiology 2014, 14:14  doi:10.1186/1471-2253-14-14

Published: 7 March 2014



While the impact of volatile anaesthetics to induce malignant hyperthermia (MH) is abundantly clear, the role of succinylcholine still remains controversial. To evaluate the influence of succinylcholine on porcine MH events, the authors investigated the hemodynamic and metabolic responses in MH susceptible (MHS) and non-susceptible (MHN) swine following either succinylcholine or halothane application alone or a combination of both substances.


With approval of the local animal care committee 27 MHS and 30 MHN pigs were anaesthetized and mechanically ventilated. Fiberoptic probes for continuous PCO2 measurement were inserted into the femoral vein and the triceps muscle. Group A received succinylcholine 4 mg/kg, group B incremental doses of halothane (0.5, 1.0 vol%) and group C succinylcholine and halothane simultaneously. Vital signs were recorded continuously.


Prior to drug application measured values did not differ between MHS and MHN. While MHN pigs did not show relevant alterations, succinylcholine, halothane and the combination of both lead to significant hemodynamic and metabolic changes in MHS swine.


Hemodynamic and metabolic alterations following succinylcholine were similar to halothane in MHS pigs. The combination of both pharmacological agents potentiated the observed effects. According to these results succinylcholine acted as an independent and supportive factor during onset of an MH episode.

Malignant hyperthermia; Succinylcholine; Halothane; Swine