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October 1952

FAT EMBOLISM: A Clinical Investigation

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Surgery, Wayne County General Hospital, Eloise, Mich., and University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Mich.

AMA Arch Surg. 1952;65(4):551-556. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1952.01260020567007

OPINIONS differ as to the incidence and the importance of fat embolism.1 For this reason we have studied 109 patients suffering from injuries, with the following questions in mind: What is a practical and dependable method for making a diagnosis of fat embolism? How common is fat embolism? Is the incidence related to the severity of injury or the type of injury? How important are the effects of fat embolism?

The results of the study indicate that fat embolism is not uncommon; the diagnosis may be made with a fair degree of accuracy, and the effects may be serious.

Various tests for verifying a diagnosis of fat embolism have been devised. Scriba,2 in 1880, described the demonstration of fat in the urine, and Warthin,3 in 1913, described the demonstration of fat globules in the sputum as methods of establishing a diagnosis of fat embolism. While their value