Fat embolism: a rare cause of perioperative renal transplant dysfunction

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Abstract

Fat embolism is a recognised complication of bony injury and orthopaedic surgery, commonly involving the long bones and pelvis. We report on the case of a 68-year-old renal transplant recipient who developed acute kidney injury following surgical stabilisation of metastatic carcinoma of the acetabulum and replacement of the proximal femur. A CT renal angiogram demonstrated a large fat embolus in the inferior vena cava (IVC) and left iliac veins below the level of IVC filter, with impaired renal perfusion. The risks of open or endovascular lipothrombectomy were felt to outweigh the potential benefits. The patient was managed with systemic anticoagulation and prepared for transplant failure. Subsequently, there was spontaneous improvement in urine output and 4 months postoperatively her transplant function had returned to her baseline level and this has remained stable at 1 year postsurgery.

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