Case Report| Volume 41, ISSUE 3, P290-296, May 2014

Intra-operative hyperthermia in a cat with a fatal outcome



      A four year old male neutered Domestic Short Hair cat presented for general anaesthesia for hind limb orthopaedic surgery. The cat had been anaesthetized four days previously with propofol and isoflurane and made an uneventful recovery.

      Physical Examination and Management

      On pre-anaesthetic examination the cat had a temperature of 38.9 °C and was otherwise healthy. After a premedication of acepromazine and pethidine, anaesthesia was induced with thiopental and maintained with isoflurane in oxygen 50% and nitrous oxide 50%. Increases in heart rate, respiratory rate, end tidal carbon dioxide tension and temperature were observed, occurring sequentially, from 110 to 175 minutes after anaesthetic induction. Despite ceasing all warming measures and attempting to cool the patient, body temperature continued to rapidly rise, reaching 42.5 °C and limb rigidity was observed. Isoflurane administration was stopped and esmolol was administered. Cardiac arrest occurred. Cardio-pulmonary cerebral resuscitation was commenced and a lateral thoracotomy was performed to allow cardiac compressions and internal defibrillation. Atropine, adrenaline, glucose and dopamine were administered and cold saline was instilled into the thoracic cavity.


      Resuscitation was unsuccessful and the cat died.


      A presumptive diagnosis of malignant hyperthermia was made. Malignant hyperthermia should be considered, even if prior exposure to volatile inhalational anaesthesia was uneventful, and prompt and aggressive therapy instituted.


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