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Fat Embolism Syndrome (FES)
- potentially fatal complication of long bone fractures
- classically described as the triad of hypoxia, petechiae, and neurological
- characterized by bone marrow fat entering the systemic circulation and the
individual's inflammatory response to it
- response can result in dysfunction of several organs, most importantly
the lungs, brain, and skin
- although fat embolization occurs in the majority of patients with long bone
fractures or during orthopedic procedures, clinical signs and symptoms occur
in only 1-10% of these patients
- most of the reported cases occurred in patients with multiple traumatic
injuries that resulted in the systemic inflammatory response syndrome,
which causes multi-organ damage via a reaction to free fatty acids
- non-traumatic causes of FES
- non-traumatic conditions are very uncommon causes of FES; they are
acute pancreatitis, fatty liver, corticosteroid therapy, lymphography,
fat emulsion infusion and haemoglobinopathies
- Gurd AR, Wilson RI. The fat embolism syndrome. J Bone Joint Surg (Br) 1974;7:408-416.
- Robinson CM. Current concepts of respiratory insufficiency syndromes after
fracture. J Bone Joint Surg (Br) 2001;7:781-791.
- Shaikh N. Emergency management of fat embolism syndrome. J Emerg Trauma
Shock. 2009 Jan;2(1):29-33.
Last reviewed 01/2018