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November 1951


Author Affiliations


Dr. Carreau is Resident in Surgery, and Dr. Higgins is Chief of the Surgical Service, Veterans Administration Center.

AMA Arch Intern Med. 1951;88(5):692-699. doi:10.1001/archinte.1951.03810110144013

THE CLINICAL recognition of the presence of fat embolism as a complication of tissue trauma is becoming increasingly more important. Zenker, whose work was cited by Warthin,1 first described the condition in 1862, and 86 cases were reported in the literature of the following 17 yr. It was Warthin's opinion1 that fat embolism resulting from traumatic lipemia was not rare, the condition being the most frequent cause of death following fracture of long bones when infection was not present. Magendie, whose work was also cited by Warthin,1 during the period 1821 to 1836 performed many experiments on animals, in which olive oil was introduced intravenously, and discovered that fluid fat, such as olive oil, could not pass through the smaller vessels but blocked them mechanically. He apparently was not aware that fat emboli occurred in man.

It is the purpose of this paper to redirect attention to

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