Purpose of review: Anaesthesia for a child with a muscle disease is always challenging because there is a risk of malignant hyperthermia, rhabdomyolysis or hypermetabolic reaction if a halogenated agent is used. Ongoing progress in genetics helps in clarifying the link between malignant hyperthermia (a calcium channelopathy) and muscle diseases.
Recent findings: We provide a summary of the most recent clinical, pathophysiological and genetic information on those risks when the diagnosis is known or suspected preoperatively. Some simple clues are also given to help make a decision in the presence of an infant or child with hypotonia or motor delay but no diagnosis.
Summary: Only a few muscle diseases are really associated with a risk of malignant hyperthermia. The risk of rhabdomyolysis is more difficult to clarify and a multicentric database would be useful to evaluate the risk/benefit ratio of all anaesthetic drugs in patients with muscle diseases.