Background: Cholesterol crystal embolization (CCE) has been documented to affect nearly every organ system. However, CCE involving the lung is distinctly uncommon and has been documented only in the setting of an aortocaval fistula.
Design: A case at the Massachusetts General Hospital and a MEDLINE search of English-language medical articles published between 1966 and 1997 provide the basis for this report.
Results: The precipitants of CCE include invasive vascular procedures, anticoagulant therapy, and thrombolysis. The most common symptoms include claudication of the calf, gastrointestinal bleeding, and weight loss. The most common signs include livedo reticularis, gangrene, and ulcers. Azotemia, proteinuria, normocytic anemia, and eosinophilia often are found. Herein is described the first pathologically confirmed case of CCE to the lung in the absence of an arteriovenous fistula.
Conclusion: Pulmonary hemorrhage should now be included in the diverse list of presenting signs of CCE. Moreover, CCE should be considered in the differential diagnosis of pulmonary-renal syndromes.