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Comp Med. 2011 Feb;61(1):86-91.

Pulmonary embolization of fat and bone marrow in cynomolgus Macaques (Macaca fascicularis).

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Washington National Primate Research Center, University of Washington, USA.


Fat embolization (FE), the introduction of bone marrow elements into circulation, is a known complication of bone fractures. Although FE has been described in other animal models, this study represents the first reported cases of FE and bone marrow embolism in nonhuman primates. Histopathologic findings from cynomolgus macaques (Macaca fascicularis) indicated that in all 5 cases, fat and bone marrow embolization occurred subsequent to multiple bone marrow biopsies. In the most severe case, extensive embolization was associated pulmonary damage consistent with acute respiratory distress syndrome. Fat embolism syndrome (FES) is an infrequent clinical outcome of FE and is triggered by systemic biochemical and mechanical responses to fat in circulation. Although clinical criteria diagnostic of FES were not investigated at the time of death, this severe case may represent the fulminant form of FES, which occurs within 12 h after trauma. Bone marrow biopsy as an etiology of FES has been reported only once in humans. In addition, the association of embolization with bone marrow biopsies suggests that nonhuman primates may be a useful animal model of FE. FE and FES represent important research confounders and FES should be considered as a differential diagnosis for clinical complications subsequent to skeletal trauma.

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