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Anaesthesia. 2001 Feb;56(2):145-54.

Fat embolism.

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Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, Fulham Road, London SW10 9NH, UK.


Fat embolism syndrome is a collection of respiratory, haematological, neurological and cutaneous symptoms and signs associated with trauma and other disparate surgical and medical conditions. The incidence of the clinical syndrome is low (< 1% in retrospective reviews) whilst the embolisation of marrow fat appears to be an almost inevitable consequence of long bone fractures. There is debate over the pathogenesis of fat embolism syndrome and it seems a variety of factors interact to produce a spectrum of end organ damage. Many therapeutic interventions and prophylactic strategies have been tried with varying success. Current treatments are supportive and the condition is usually associated with a good outcome. The literature on fat embolism syndrome is extensive and this review aims to discuss the incidence, aetiology, pathophysiology, diagnosis and treatment of fat embolism.

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