Podcast # 349: Fat Emboli - The Emergency Medical Minute

Podcast # 349: Fat Emboli

Author: Sue Chilton, MD

Educational Pearls:

  • Triad of fat emboli syndrome is a petechial rash, AMS, and respiratory distress.
  • Petechiae usually start in the axilla.
  • 90% of patients with long bone fractures will shed fat.
  • May see ground-glass opacities on imaging, but perfusion defects will not be seen on CTA or V/Q scan
  • Patients with a PFO can have cerebral involvement.



Newbigin K, Souza CA, Torres C, Marchiori E, Gupta A, Inacio J, Armstrong M, Peña E. Fat embolism syndrome: State-of-the-art review focused on pulmonary imaging findings. Respir Med. 2016.113:93-100. doi: 10.1016/j.rmed.2016.01.018.

Kosova E, Bergmark B, Piazza G. Fat embolism syndrome. Circulation. 2015. 20;131(3):317-20. doi: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.114.010835.

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