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September 1978

Skin Signs of Fat Embolism

Author Affiliations


Arch Dermatol. 1978;114(9):1399-1400. doi:10.1001/archderm.1978.01640210078030

To the Editor.—  This report calls to the attention of dermatologists a distinct dermatologic entity that has become well recognized in the medical and surgical literature; yet, it has received minimal attention in the dermatologic literature.

Report of a Case.—  A 53-year-old man was admitted to Hahnemann Hospital for a traumatic fractured left fibula. The fracture occurred 36 hours prior to admission. On admission, chest x-ray film, complete blood cell count (CBC), platelet count, and urinalysis results were all within normal limits. Fourteen hours later, punctate petechiae were noted on the patient's neck and on the upper portions of the arms, chest, and back. A skin biopsy was refused by the patient. Findings from a repeated CBC, platelet count, and chest roentgenogram were unchanged. However, the petechial lesions in the aforementioned distribution were virtually pathognomonic of fat embolization when viewed in the clinical setting of antecedent trauma.

Comment.—  In the

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