The precise link between the use of halothane and the subsequent development of hepatitis remains unclear. The incidence is extremely low, being in the region of 1: 10000-20000 halothane administrations. The clinical picture is one of jaundice, with a massive rise in plasma aminotransferases several days after the exposure to halothane, associated with severe hepatic necrosis. The mortality rate is approximately 50%. Severe liver damage is unlikely to occur after a single exposure in adults, but repeat administration at an interval of less than 3 months should be avoided, particularly in obese, middle-aged females. With the current range of alternatives this should no longer be necessary. The risk to children appears to be much less.
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