The Development of Fat Embolism Syndrome (FES) and Multiple Small Pulmonary Emboli Following Open Reduction Internal Fixation (ORIF) of a Left Femur Fracture: A Case Report


East Florida


Westside Regional Medical Center

Document Type

Case Report

Publication Date



distal femur fracture, fat embolism syndrome, orthopedic procedures, pulmonary emboli, vasopressor


Anesthesiology | Cardiovascular Diseases | Medicine and Health Sciences


Fat embolism syndrome (FES) is a rare but potentially life-threatening complication that can occur following orthopedic procedures, such as long bone fracture repairs. FES is caused by the release of fat globules into the bloodstream, leading to the obstruction of blood vessels and subsequent tissue damage. Pulmonary embolism (PE), a condition in which a blood clot travels to the lungs, is another potential complication of orthopedic procedures due to the mobilization of blood clots during surgery. We report the case of a 56-year-old female who presented to the emergency department with a left femur fracture following a mechanical fall and underwent open reduction internal fixation (ORIF) surgery for the fracture. The procedure was complicated by the development of FES and multiple small pulmonary emboli. The patient was managed postoperatively in the ICU, requiring support with multiple vasopressors and mechanical ventilation. She remained in the ICU for three days postoperatively and was discharged on postoperative day six to an inpatient rehabilitation facility.

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