Masseter muscle rigidity and nondepolarizing neuromuscular blocking agents

Mayo Clin Proc. 1997 Apr;72(4):329-32. doi: 10.4065/72.4.329.


Masseter muscle rigidity has been identified as a possible risk factor for malignant hyperthermia (MH) and is usually noted in children receiving intravenously administered succinylcholine chloride after mask induction with halothane. Nondepolarizing muscle relaxants are considered safe for persons susceptible to MH. In this article, we present a case of clinically recognized jaw rigidity in the absence of succinylcholine after administration of a non-depolarizing muscle relaxant that was reported to the Malignant Hyperthermia Association of the United States hot line. The patient had recurrent jaw rigidity during subsequent anesthesia when a different non-depolarizing muscle relaxant was given. The North American MH Registry was then reviewed for similar cases. Three cases of masseter muscle rigidity in the presence of nondepolarizing muscle relaxants were discovered. Two of the patients were not found to be susceptible to MH; however, the third patient had positive findings on muscle biopsy. These cases do not provide enough information to confirm the ability of nondepolarizing muscle relaxants to cause jaw rigidity in the absence of MH.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anesthesia, General / adverse effects*
  • Anesthesia, General / methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Malignant Hyperthermia / etiology*
  • Malignant Hyperthermia / physiopathology
  • Masseter Muscle / drug effects*
  • Masseter Muscle / physiopathology
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuromuscular Nondepolarizing Agents / adverse effects*


  • Neuromuscular Nondepolarizing Agents