November 1957

Fat Embolism

Author Affiliations

U. S. A. F.

AMA Arch Surg. 1957;75(5):713. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1957.01280170023010

The release of physiologically insignificant numbers of fat emboli into the circulation, to be subsequently entrapped in the capillary bed of the lungs and other organs, can be quite regularly demonstrated pathologically after various types of trauma and would appear to be almost a natural occurrence. It can be assumed that these emboli originate at the site of trauma, since studies thus far have not convincingly demonstrated any other source. Following skeletal injuries the emboli are usually present in greater numbers and can be clinically detected by the appearance of fat globules in the urine; however, symptoms are usually absent or minimal, and the condition is rarely recognized. In a small minority of cases, for reasons not yet recognized, the process reaches extreme proportions, and the embolic blockade of the pulmonary and cerebral capillary beds results in an alteration of body physiology which proves fatal. Thus far, no means of

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