Intramedullary fixation of long bone metastases is an effective method of treating or preventing pathologic fractures. An important complication of this technique is the development of pulmonary embolism, which may oocur at any number of steps during bone manipulation. Passage of normal marrow contents or tumor into the pulmonary circulation is thought to cause various biochemical, hemodynamic, or physical responses that lead to hypotension, arrythmia, and O2 desaturation. Death is a known risk of this procedure. Numerous surgical and anesthetic strategies have been developed to prevent or treat pulmonary embolic phenomena; however, the most important prophylaxis may be a heightened awareness of this possibility during any procedure that involves intramedullary manipulation of tumor containing bone.

Full-text article