Last reviewed 05/2021

Fat Embolism Syndrome may be distinguished from fat embolism:

  • The term fat embolism indicates the often asymptomatic presence of fat globules in the lung parenchyma and peripheral circulation after long bone or other major trauma

  • occurs in the majority of cases of major trauma - at least 95%

  • FES is a serious manifestation of the phenomenon of fat emboli with an overall incidence of 1 - 3.5% of patients with a fracture of the tibia or femur and 5 - 11% of patients with bilateral or multiple fractures

  • FES also occurs in many other traumatic and non-traumatic conditions including diabetes, burns, inhalation anaesthesia, chronic pancreatitis and alcoholism, cardiopulmonary bypass, sickle cell anaemia, renal transplantation and infarction, liposuction and following orthopaedic procedures such as total hip arthroplasty, intramedullary nailing and total hip and knee arthroplasty

  • incidence of fat embolism syndrome is reduced with early fixation of fractures of the femur, as compared with delayed fixation.