Vol 5, No 1 (2020)
Case report
Published online: 2020-01-13

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Fat embolism syndrome case in woman presenting with a multiple injury following a traffic accident successfully treated using interdisciplinary approach - case report

Szymon Białka1, Adam Ubych2, Jacek Smereka3, Tomasz Byrczek4, Krzysztof Szaniewski5, Lukasz Szarpak6
Disaster Emerg Med J 2020;5(1):57-59.


BACKGROUND: A potential complication of extensive injuries is an episode of fat embolism, also referred to as fat embolism syndrome. The main causes of fat embolism include long bone and pelvic fractures. Symptoms of fat embolism may also develop after elective orthopedic surgery, removal of subcutaneous fat tissue, multiple rib fractures, acute pancreatitis, or parenteral nutrition with fat-containing products.Most of the possible clinical signs are non-specific. The triad of clinical signs including gas exchange disorders in the lungs, central nervous system disorders, and bloody petechiae on the skin makes fat embolism syndrome diagnosis much easier. However, the final diagnosis is based on meeting one large criterion, four small criteria, and one laboratory criterion in accordance with Gurd’s assumptions.

METHODS: Manuscript description a case of 44-year-old woman with a multiple injury following a traffic accident. Computed tomography revealed a extensive head injury, numerous fractures of ribs, transverse processes of thoracic vertebrae and right scapula. As a result of the injuries developed full-blown fat embolism syndrome.

CONCLUSIONS: This case highlights the importance of appropriate knowledge of the pathomechanism and clinical presentation of fat embolism syndrome and interdisciplinary therapeutic team approach. A quick correct diagnosis is crucial to improve treatment results. Access to laboratory and imaging tests considerably facilitates the diagnostic process, which should be followed by optimal therapeutic management. The lack of a golden standard of treatment necessitates a flexible and interdisciplinary therapeutic approach.

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