The pathogenesis of fat embolism

J Pathol. 1995 May;176(1):3-9. doi: 10.1002/path.1711760103.


Fat embolism is a common autopsy finding in patients with or without a history of trauma. There are two basic mechanisms causing fat to embolize. Depot-derived fat embolism arises by disruption of depot fat, usually as a result of trauma, allowing direct entry into the bloodstream. Plasma-derived fat embolism is caused by agglutination of endogenous or infused exogenous fat such as Intralipid, with consequent embolism. Chylomicrons and Intralipid liposomes are known to undergo calcium-dependent agglutination by C-reactive protein (CRP), and this may play a role in vivo in this type of fat embolism.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bone Marrow
  • Embolism, Fat / epidemiology
  • Embolism, Fat / etiology*
  • Emulsions
  • Fat Emulsions, Intravenous / adverse effects
  • Fractures, Bone / complications
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Lipids / blood
  • Phospholipids
  • Soybean Oil
  • Wounds and Injuries / complications


  • Emulsions
  • Fat Emulsions, Intravenous
  • Lipids
  • Phospholipids
  • soybean oil, phospholipid emulsion
  • Soybean Oil