A study on dynamic monitoring, components, and risk factors of embolism during total knee arthroplasty

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Background:Fat embolism is a common complication of orthopedic surgery. However, the exact component and risk factor responsible for this complication remains unelucidated. This study aimed to detect the origin of the pulmonary embolus and identify relevant risk factors of pulmonary embolism in total knee replacement.Methods:A total of 40 osteoarthritis patients who underwent primary unilateral TKA were recruited into this study. Transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) was utilized to dynamically monitor the embolism. Pulmonary arterial pressure was recorded and biopsies were obtained from the medullary cavity during surgery.Results:After tourniquet release, the arterial embolism was observed by TEE to have a peak signal at 30 seconds when pulmonary arterial pressure was increased by 25% to 40% (P = .002). The pathology study of the embolism revealed its bone marrow origin. Total embolus quantity was positively correlated with age (P = .021), body mass index (BMI, P = .041), and fat content of the bone marrow (P = .003). Logistic regression analysis revealed that the fat content of the marrow (OR: 1.432, 95% CI: 1.335–1.592), age (OR: 1.632, 95% CI: 1.445–1.832), and BMI (OR: 1.231, 95% CI: 1.032–1.381) were risk factors for pulmonary hypertension.Conclusion:This study revealed that the embolus detected in the right atrium was derived from bone marrow tissues, and this led to pulmonary arterial pressure fluctuations after tourniquet release. Therefore, elderly patients who have high BMI or bone marrow fat content are at high-risk for pulmonary fat embolism during TKA.

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