A fat embolism
is a type of embolism
that is often (but not always) caused by physical trauma
Fat emboli can occur whenever there is a chance for fat to enter the circulatory system, such as during surgery. A common scenario is fatty marrow entering the circulation after a fracture to a large long bone, such as the femur
, or after surgery on this bone.
It can also occur during childbirth.
Unlike emboli that arise from thrombi (blood clots), fat emboli are small and multiple, and so have widespread effects.
Symptoms usually occur 1-3 days after the insult, and are predominantly; pulmonary (shortness of breath), neurological (agitation, delerium or coma) and haematological (anaemia, low platelets). The mortality rate of fat embolism is approximately 10%.