Cerebral fat embolism following cardiac surgery.
We describe 3 cases of cerebral fat embolism associated with cardiac surgery. The autopsy findings suggested that in 2 cases, the embolic fat globules entered the systemic circulation directly as a result of protrusion of epicardial fat into the left atrial chamber along the suture line in one case, and through an atrial septal defect in the other. The characteristic latent interval between surgical trauma and onset of neurologic manifestations was lacking in both cases. The evolution of neurologic manifestations and the pathologic findings in the third case were similar to those usually seen in posttraumatic fat embolism. This study suggests that the pathogenetic mechanisms of cerebral fat embolism following cardiac surgery may vary in different cases. Also, it emphasizes the importance of autopsy in the investigation of this serious but preventable complication.
- Copyright © 1983 by American Heart Association