Fat Embolism Syndrome Revisited: A Case Report and Review of Literature, With New Recommendations for the Anesthetized Patient

Jamie Shaw Huffman, Chris Humston, Joseph Tobias
AANA Journal 2020, 88 (3): 222-228
Current criteria used to make the clinical diagnosis of fat embolism syndrome were never intended to be applied to an anesthetized, mechanically ventilated patient in the operating room and, as such, may not be applicable during intraoperative care. Because of this, confusion still exists among anesthesia providers in recognizing this potentially fatal clinical condition. Our goal was to develop and then present a more exacting and rigorous grading scale, tailored specifically for the anesthetized patient, with the hope that it will aid clinicians in recognizing and successfully managing the manifestations of the syndrome. A thorough review of the proposed mechanisms of fat embolism syndrome is provided, as well as a brief case report detailing a pediatric patient who experienced cardiovascular collapse during intramedullary nailing of a femur fracture. Also included is a proposal for new clinical guidelines for the intraoperative diagnosis of fat embolism.

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