Fat Embolism

  1. Hello all,

    I understand that long bone fractures can cause a fat embolism within 24-72 hrs- which affects both the lungs and CNS.

    However, since it's an embolism, why doesn't it cause any chest pain or shallow breathing since it affects the lungs...wouldn't it occlude the vessels related to the lungs causing difficulty breathing and chest pain?

    I looked everywhere, and it appears that chest pain and shallow breathing is not a symptom of a fat embolism.

    Wondering if anyone can help me understand this... maybe I am misunderstanding the patho of an embolism?

    Thanks!
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    About wyshywashy

    Joined: Aug '15; Posts: 5; Likes: 1
    from US

    2 Comments

  3. by   FuturePsychNP21
    I'm not sure where you are looking but a fat embolism has very similar symptoms to a PE- restlessness, tachypnea, dyspnea, tachycardia
  4. by   Here.I.Stand
    I don't have my patho book from school anymore, but all of the info Google gave me said they can/do cause pulmonary sx like hypoxia, SOB etc. (This was the first I'd heard that it does NOT cause pulmonary sx; I Googled it to verify.)

    *Chest pain* in the typical sense is from coronary artery occlusion. Fat emboli are in the venous circulation so wouldn't typically enter the coronary arteries.

    I've only seen this once, and it was horrible. Teen attempted suicide by jumping from an overpass. He broke both legs and arms in multiple places, but didn't sustain any head trauma from the fall. However his brain was "showered" with fat emboli, and as a result he developed a profound anoxic brain injury. His GCS was only 4 -- all he did was extension posture with noxious stimuli... and I want to say he even lost his cough and gag.

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