Fat embolism develops in nearly all patients with bone fractures or during orthopedic procedures.1–2
Rarely, fat embolism may occur in other nontrauma-related pathologic conditions such as pancreatitis and sickle cell disease. Fat embolism is usually asymptomatic, but in the minority of the patients symptoms and signs develop as a result of dysfunction of several organs, notably of the lungs, brain, and skin, in which case the term fat embolism syndrome (FES) is reserved. FES most commonly is associated with long-bone and pelvic fractures, and is more frequent in closed, rather than open, fractures. Patients with long-bone fractures have a 1 to 20% chance of acquiring the syndrome. However, the true incidence of FES is rather unknown because mild cases may be unnoticed.