Background and purpose: The present study was done to investigate the prevalence of zinc deficiency after pancreatoduodenectomy (PD) and its correlation with pancreatic exocrine insufficiency. Materials and methods: Patients were included in this study if they had undergone PD for periampullary tumors without recurrence and had received follow-up for more than 6 months between February 2006 and June 2007. Serum levels of zinc, fasting glucose, albumin, and iron were obtained. The pancreatic exocrine function was evaluated by a fecal elastase-1 assay, stool fat assessment, and a pancreatic duct-parenchymal ratio (DPR) at the L1 level using abdominal computed tomography (CT). The quality of life was estimated with a questionnaire of EORTC QLQ-C30 and PAN26. All of these patients were then supplemented with oral pancreatic enzymes for 4 weeks to evaluate the effect of these enzymes on zinc deficiency. Results: Forty-eight eligible patients, 27 men and 21 women, were included. The mean age was 61.3 ± 1.7 years. Thirty-three (68%) patients had a zinc deficiency with a mean zinc level of 72.3 ± 2.9 mcg/dl (normal range: 80-120 mcg/dl). Patients with lower serum zinc levels tended to have typical presentations of zinc deficiency (P = 0.039, χ2). The serum zinc level was significantly negatively correlated with pancreatic duct diameter, DPR, and positive stool fat during the late follow-up period. The most common presentations of patients with lower serum zinc levels were skin rash, photophobia, and glossitis. These gastrointestinal disorders, as well as symptoms of zinc deficiency, improved after pancreatic enzyme supplementation. Conclusions: Zinc deficiency after PD was a common phenomenon and correlated with pancreatic exocrine insufficiency.
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