Role of Survival Time and Injury Severity in Fatal Pulmonary Fat Embolism

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Abstract

Pulmonary fat embolism (PFE) is frequent in blunt trauma and may occasionally lead to death. A correlation between fracture grade and severity and PFE grade has been described before, but no correlation between PFE and survival time, fat crushing extent, fat crush grade, or number of body regions with fractures could be noted in this small study. To further examine this, we decided to examine the aforementioned points in a far larger study group.

Autopsy protocols of 188 nonresuscitated fatalities with blunt trauma and without right heart injury, which underwent whole body dissection, were retrospectively reviewed concerning the presence and the severity of PFE, injuries, survival time, age, sex, and the body mass index.

The fracture grade, the fracture severity, and the number of the fractured regions correlated very well with the grade of PFE, but the crushed regions, crush grade, and crush severity did not. We observed a time correlation between survival time and PFE only in the sense that very rapid deaths were often PFE negative. High-grade PFE was observed most often in patients having died less than 6 hours after the incident, and PFE grades of 2 or more were occasionally noted even after 48 hours.

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