Prognostic value of serum zinc levels in patients with acute HC/zinc chloride smoke inhalation

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Hexachloroethane (HC)/zinc chloride (ZnCl, smoke bomb) exposure in the military setting results in lung injury which is uncommon and has been rarely described in previous studies. The aim of this study is to investigate the correlation between the serum zinc in patients with HC/ZnCl smoke inhalation lung injury and disease severity. A total of 15 patients with HC/ZnCl-related conditions were recruited in this study. The serum zinc level and the pulmonary function tests and liver function tests including total lung capacity (TLC), forced vital capacity (FVC), forced expiratory pressure in 1 second (FEV1), alanine aminotransferase (ALT), and aspartate transaminase (AST) were analyzed. Eleven cases had mild clinical manifestations. Four cases rapidly developed features typical of severe adult respiratory distress syndrome. The level of serum zinc was increased, but FVC, FEV1, and TLC was decreased significantly in the moderate and severe cases. In addition, the serum zinc level correlated well with the TLC, FVC, and FEV1 (r = −0.587, −0.626, −0.617, respectively; P = .027, .017, .019, respectively). The 4 cases in moderate and severe group had delayed impairment of liver functions after the accident. This study suggested that the serum zinc level may be associated with the severity of lung and liver injuries after HC/ZnCl smoke inhalation.

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