Unilateral necrosis of the tongue caused by embolisation of cholesterol crystals

Br J Oral Maxillofac Surg. 2018 May;56(4):340-342. doi: 10.1016/j.bjoms.2018.03.003. Epub 2018 Mar 26.


Cholesterol crystals embolise when an aortic atherosclerotic lesion ruptures and cholesterol crystals are scattered and obstruct small peripheral arterioles. Risk factors include both iatrogenic factors such as intravascular catheterisation, and spontaneous factors for atherosclerosis such as aging, hypertension, dyslipidaemia, and smoking. We describe the case of an 83-year-old Japanese man who developed unilateral, superficial necrosis of the tongue as a result of spontaneous embolisation of cholesterol crystals.

Keywords: atherosclerosis; cholesterol crystal embolization; spontaneous factor; tongue necrosis.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Embolism, Cholesterol / complications*
  • Embolism, Cholesterol / diagnosis
  • Embolism, Cholesterol / pathology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Necrosis
  • Tongue / blood supply
  • Tongue / pathology
  • Tongue Diseases / diagnosis
  • Tongue Diseases / etiology*
  • Tongue Diseases / pathology