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Fat embolism in sickle cell disease
  1. R. M. Hutchinson,
  2. M. V. Merrick,
  3. J. M. White
  1. Department of Haematology, Hammersmith Hospital, London
  2. Department of Radiology, Hammersmith Hospital, London


    Fat embolism is a known complication of marrow infarction in patients with sickle cell disease (Hb S/S and Hb S/C) disease. It should be considered in sickle cell crisis when there is deterioration in respiratory function, a fall in arterial PO2, a normoblastaemia, and a thrombocytopenia in the peripheral blood. We now report a patient in whom the diagnosis was confirmed in life by identifying fat in the sputum, demonstrating disseminated intravascular coagulation, and using a double isotope technique to distinguish recent from old marrow infarction. Use of these features enabled an early diagnosis to be made which led to a successful outcome in a potentially fatal condition.

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