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Cerebral fat embolism: the value of susceptibility-weighted imaging
  1. Kathleen Kuh Leander Malgapo,
  2. Chinar Osman,
  3. Martin Prevett
  1. Neurosciences, Wessex Neurological Centre, Southampton, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Kathleen Kuh Leander Malgapo, Neurosciences, Wessex Neurological Centre, Southampton SO16 6YD, UK; kathleen.malgapo{at}

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Case history

A 28-year-old man with a schizoaffective disorder jumped off a 30-foot bridge sustaining bilateral tibial and fibular fractures. He required fluid resuscitation, but his Glasgow Coma Scale score was 15 and there was no respiratory compromise. He underwent external fixation of the leg fractures, and was extubated postoperatively. However, within 24 hours he developed respiratory distress associated with deteriorating conscious level, requiring reintubation. Chest radiograph showed patchy shadowing in both lungs (figure 1), but CT scan head was normal. He was started on antibiotics for suspected aspiration pneumonia, but his serum C-reactive protein continued to rise. He underwent wound debridement and his antibiotic treatment was escalated. He failed to improve and had persistent fever and tachycardia. MR scan of brain was performed and a neurology opinion was requested.

Figure 1

Chest radiograph showing extensive air space shadowing.

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  • Contributors All authors contributed equally in writing the paper.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Next of kin consent obtained.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed. This paper was reviewed by Joshua Klein, Boston, USA.