Fat Embolism Syndrome: A Qualitative Review of its Incidence, Presentation, Pathogenesis and Management
Fat Embolism Syndrome (FES) is a poorly defined clinical phenomenon which has been attributed to fat emboli entering the circulation. It is common, and its clinical presentation may be either subtle or dramatic and life threatening. This is a review of the history, causes, pathophysiology, presentation, diagnosis and management of FES. FES mostly occurs secondary to orthopaedic trauma; it is less frequently associated with other traumatic and atraumatic conditions. There is no single test for diagnosing FES. Diagnosis of FES is often missed due to its subclinical presentation and/or confounding injuries in more severely injured patients. FES is most frequently diagnosed using the Gurd and Wilson criteria, like its rivals it is not clinically validated. Although FES is a multi-system condition, its effects in the lung, brain, cardiovascular system and skin cause most morbidity. FES is mostly a self-limiting condition and treatment is supportive in nature. Many treatments have been trialled, most notably corticosteroids and heparin, however no validated treatment has been established.
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