Fat Emboli After Femur Fractures


A car accident can develop whenever someone sets foot in a motor vehicle; however, even the smallest of collisions can lead to injuries. Sometimes, it is helpful to read case reports to see what kind of complications might develop.

What are Fat Emboli?

One of the problems that can result from bone fractures, such as those found in traumatic injuries, is that the tissue contained in the bones could be released into the bloodstream. While much of this is harmless, some of these are cholesterol molecules. These are the breakdown products of fatty tissue contained in the bone marrow. If these flow through the bloodstream, they can cause blood clots similar to air emboli, strokes, and heart attacks. When fat is the cause of the blood clot, it is called a fat embolus.

A Noted Problem in Femur Fractures

A case report published describes a patient who was severely injured in a single-car auto accident. She had suffered polytrauma, meaning she had developed multiple injuries in the car accident, one of which was a compound fracture of the femur. After the surgeons took her to the operating room to repair her injuries, she had difficulty waking up. She became less responsive over the course of her stay and developed spasms in her extremities. Shortly after, she developed petechiae, or small bruises, near her armpits. These are tell-tale signs of fat emboli. She had spasms in her extremities because some of the emboli had traveled to the brain, causing a stroke. While this patient eventually recovered, most people understand that strokes could also prove fatal. Early diagnosis was key in the success of this patient's recovery.

Problems in Multiple Accidents

Another case report described a man who had been injured in a plane crash. He appeared alert; however, this patient had also suffered a broken leg and had surgery for his right femur fracture. In this case, the man recovered and was released 24 hours after surgery. Unfortunately, he developed a rapid heart rate and trouble breathing. He also developed the tell-tale rash after the accident and was diagnosed with a fat embolism. In this case, the man had suffered a heart attack, which would have killed him if not diagnosed quickly. These case reports serve as a warning that fat emboli are serious concerns that everyone should be aware of following a fractured femur. If not caught quickly, fat emboli can lead to death.

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Sacramento Personal Injury Lawyer Ed Smith
Sacramento Wrongful Death Lawyer and Personal Injury Attorney

I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento Personal Injury Lawyer. Patients with a femur fracture are at risk for a number of complications, including the development of fat emboli. If you or a loved one has broken their leg, please give me a call at 916.921.6400 for free and friendly advice for your situation.

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