Liposuction-Induced Fat Embolism Syndrome: A Brief Review and Postmortem Diagnostic Approach.
Lipoplasty, or liposuction, the surgical process of removing excess fat, is an elective procedure with rising frequency in the United States. Fat embolism syndrome is a clinical diagnosis and is defined as fat in the circulation with an identifiable clinical pattern of signs and symptoms (eg, hypoxemia, respiratory insufficiency, neurologic impairment, and petechial rash) that occur in the appropriate clinical context. Fat embolism syndrome following liposuction is a life-threatening complication, although its incidence is low. Currently, there is no specific therapy for fat embolism syndrome, so prevention, early detection, and supportive therapy are critical. Many cases of fat embolism syndrome are undiagnosed or misdiagnosed; however, postmortem examination can provide the means for appropriate diagnosis. Therefore, a pathologist must keep a keen eye, as microscopic fat emboli are difficult to appreciate with routine tissue processing and staining.
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