Despite the hundreds of articles written on the subject of fat embolism since the seventeenth century, there is a great discrepancy of opinion as to its clinical importance, methods of diagnosis, etiology, and treatment.
We believe that fat embolism is common in persons suffering from injuries and that the effects may be serious. We studied 109 patients consecutively admitted to the hospital for injuries. Half of them had fat embolism as diagnosed by the finding of fat in the urine, and 10% of the severely injured died from the effects of fat embolism.1
Treatment of this disease has been nonspecific and supportive. If we are to develop better treatment we must learn more of its etiology. In these experiments we have concerned ourselves with the origin of the fat.
Three possibilities for the origin of the fat have been suggested.
1. Mechanical. Fat liberated at the site of trauma