- FES results when embolic marrow fat macroglobules damage small vessel perfusion leading to endothelial damage in pulmonary
capillary beds leading to respiratory failure
and ARDS like picture;
- risk factors
- long bone frx (esp femoral shaft
- note that the risk is especially high with femoral shaft fracture and concomitant head injury;
- risk is higher w/ non-operative therapy but is also higher w/ over-zealous reaming of femoral canal
- multiple trauma w/ major visceral injuries and blood loss (incidence may be as high as 5-10%);
- see timing of orthopaedic surgery with concomitant head injury
Is the method of frx fixation relevant?
- as noted by Schemitsch EH, et al
, in an experimental animal study, the amount of embolized fat measured at 24 hours
after pressurization of the IM canal was not affected by the method fixation;
- frx fixation was not associated w/ evidence of acute accumulation, nor did it have any effect on pulmonary artery pressure;
- concluded that pulmonary dysfunction from fat emboli depends on addtional factors, and the method of frx fixation was
not a significant factor;
- Pulmonary and systemic fat embolization after medullary canal pressurization: a hemodynamic and histologic investigation in the dog
- 1990 Proceedings of The Hip Society--Basic Science and Pathology: The Fat Embolism Syndrome: A Review.
- Fatal fat embolism following total condylar knee arthroplasty
- The fat embolism syndrome. A review
- Fat embolism, intravascular coagulation, and osteonecrosis
- Fat emboli syndrome in isolated fractures of the tibia and femur
- Fat embolism syndrome: history, definition, epidemiology.
- Fat embolism: the reaming controversy.
- Physical and technical aspects of intramedullary reaming.
- Fat embolism: special situations bilateral femoral fractures and pathologic femoral fractures.
- Fat emboli syndrome in a nondisplaced tibia fracture
- gurd's criteria for diagnosis:
- pulse ox monitoring for subclinical hypoxemia may also be beneficial;
- ref: Clinically inapparent hypoxemia after skeletal injury. The use of the pulse oximeter as a screening method
- hypoxia on ABG
- fallen hemoglobin (3-5 g)
- early thrombocytopenia
- fat demonstrated in blood clots
nonspecific serial chest roentgenograms;
- immediate frx fixation may lower incidence of FES (ref)
- consider prophylactic steroids
for prevention of FES in patients w/ isolated long bone trauma;
- Fat embolism prophylaxis with corticosteroids. A prospective study in high-risk patients
- 'Low-dose' corticosteroid prophylaxis against fat embolism
- Fat embolism and the fat embolism syndrome. A double-blind therapeutic study
- The use of methylprednisolone and hypertonic glucose in the prophylaxis of fat embolism syndrome
- role of intramedullary instrumentation:
Intramedullary Pressure Changes and Fat Intravasation During Intramedullary Nailing: An Experimental Study in Sheep
Pulmonary damage after intramedullary femoral nailing in traumatized sheep--is there an effect from different nailing methods?
Fat embolism syndrome following the intramedullary alignment guide in total knee arthroplasty
Influences of Different Methods of Intramedullary Femoral Nailing on Lung Function in Patients With Multiple Trauma
Pulmonary effects of fixation of a fracture with a plate compared with intramedullary nailing. A canine model of fat embolism and fracture fixation
Femoral canal reaming in the polytrauma patient with chest injury. A clinical perspective
Intramedullary nailing and reaming for delayed union or nonunion of the femoral shaft. A report of 105 consecutive cases
ARDS, pneumonia / mortality following thoracic injury and femoral frx treated either with IM with reaming or with a plate.
Prevention of fat embolism syndrome.
Fatal pulmonary embolization after reaming of the femoral medullary cavity in sclerosing osteomyelitis: a case report
- once FES occurs, it is mandatory that perfusion be maintained
, especially in older patients;
- to adequately treat FES patients, must take a "pro-active"
intervention statedgy to ensure that perfusion is maintained as
soon as FES is diagnosed;
- specific requirements
- SG monitoring
(w/ continuous mixed VO2
- cardiac echo to evaluated for a patent ductus arteriosus;
- arterial line for monitorying blood pressure and ABG
- metabolic acidosis
or suboptimal mixed VO2
indicates sub-optimal perfusion;
- maintenance of perfusion by optimizing:
- cardiac output
- influenced by preload
, and thru use of inotropic agents
- hematocrit: must be aggressively be kept above 30% w/ pRBC
- most pts will require mechanical ventilation as they enter respiratory failure
- ref: Therapeutic aspects of fat embolism syndrome.
Bone marrow fat in the circulation: clinical entities and pathophysiological mechanisms.
Images in Clinical Medicine. Fat Embolism Syndrome
Incidence of pulmonary fat embolism at autopsy: an undiagnosed epidemic
Cerebral fat emboli: A trigger of post-operative delirium
Original Text by Clifford R. Wheeless, III, MD.