Zinc in clinical surgery: a research review


Okada A




Japanese Journal of Surgery


Among the essential trace elements in mammals, zinc is somewhat unique in that it is a constituent of numerous metallo-enzymes having biologic significance in many respects. The discovery of zinc deficiency in man induced the remarkable progress of studies on its physiology and it is now recognized that zinc deficiency manifests itself differently in different areas of clinical medicine. It also appears reasonable to say that no trace elements have been more closely related to surgery than zinc. We discuss herein, its significance, implications and role in such areas as; (1) wound healing: where the usefulness of zinc for promoting wound healing in the presence of low plasma zinc levels has been firmly established; (2) total parenteral nutrition (TPN); zinc free TPN may cause skin eruptions associated with abdominal symptoms presenting a picture closely resembling that of acrodermatitis enteropathica; (3) specific pathological conditions: patients with Crohn's disease and other benign diseases accompanied by mal-digestion or -absorbtion are often predisposed to zinc deficiency, similar to those manifesting clinical signs in the early stage of TPN; and (4) surgical stress: which triggers the release of various mediators, possibly increasing hepatic zinc deposition and decreasing plasma and skin zinc levels.