Understanding Fatal Fat Embolism in Gluteal Lipoinjection: A Review of the Medical Records and Autopsy Reports of 16 Patients

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Abstract

Background:

Deaths secondary to gluteal lipoinjection are relatively recent events of major importance. However, little is known in relation to their behavior and clinical evolution. Therefore, an analysis was performed of case records from clinical cases that encountered this problem, correlating the results with the findings during autopsies.

Methods:

An analysis was performed of records from patients who died secondary to gluteal lipoinjection. Patient-specific data, surgical procedure, clinical picture, evolution, and outcome were analyzed. The findings of the autopsies and the involvement of other organs were also analyzed and correlated.

Results:

From 2000 to 2009, 16 files were obtained that fulfilled the indicated requirements. There were no statistically significant differences in the general characteristics of the patients, such as age, body mass index, or volume lipoinjected or liposuctioned. The clinical pictures were similar in all cases, and the autopsy findings showed the presence of microembolism in all cases and macroembolism in the most severe cases.

Conclusions:

The most significant parameter of severity in patients who undergo gluteal lipoinjection is the presence of fat in macroscopic form in the circulation. The volumes of liposuctioned or lipoinjected fat have little influence. Hypoxemia, hypotension, and bradycardia are the characteristic clinical features. Although there is no specific treatment, immediate aggressive vital support to attempt to stabilize the patient is crucial.

CLINICAL QUESTION/LEVEL OF EVIDENCE:

Therapeutic, V.

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