Maternal death due to non-traumatic fat embolism

Karayel F., Arican N. , Kavas G., Turan A., Pakis I.

JOURNAL OF FORENSIC SCIENCES, vol.50, no.5, pp.1201-1203, 2005 (Journal Indexed in SCI) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 50 Issue: 5
  • Publication Date: 2005
  • Page Numbers: pp.1201-1203


The aim of this report is to document a case of non-traumatic fat embolism (NTFE) and to address the need for considerition of fat embolism in suspicious deaths resulting from respiratory distress in the postpartum period. A 28-years-old woman autopsied at the Morgue Department of the Council of Forensic Medicine is included to the study. This female became unconscious and developed respiratory distress 4 h after delivery, and this was followed by respiratory arrest. External examination revealed resuscitation marks and normal postmortem changes. Light microscopy revealed massive fat embolization involving most of the alveolar capillaries on several sections. Only in one particular area was a bone marrow embolus. Pathological diagnosis of the lung was diffuse pulmonary fat embolism. There was no evidence of other organ involvement with emboli. Other visceral organs showed no striking findings other than mild congestion. The cause of death was considered to be respiratory insufficiency resulting from severe fat embolism of the lungs.