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Vitamin C Deficiency and Surgery

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Vitamin C deficiency and surgery
Date: Monday, April 08, 2002
Source: Surgery
Related Monographs: Vitamin C, Wound Care

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There are several types of wounds, including surgical, traumatic, and chronic wounds. The surgical wound is usually clean and easiest to heal. These wounds result from the trauma induced by surgery. Surgical wounds include: (1) post-surgical incisions, including dental extraction, (2) suture site wounds, (3) donor site wounds such as in blood donation, (4) IV site wounds, (5) skin graft wounds, (6) periostomy skin wounds, and (7) peritracheotomy wounds.

The process of repair and regeneration following injury represents one of the most fundamental defense mechanisms of an organism against the environment. Wound healing in individuals generally occurs over a reasonable length of time. However, there are reasons that wounds may not heal appropriately, such as in impaired immunity, diseases such as diabetes and CVD, immobility, poor nutrition, and the like.

A recent small study published in the journal Surgery, investigated the status of vitamin C in patients who received surgery. During post-operative care, patients who experienced hemorrhage and had low serum levels of vitamin C were recruited for this 12-month study. Twelve patients (six women and six men) then received vitamin C supplementation. The researchers reviewed patient information such as the therapy response, dietary history, and need for blood transfusions. Ten out of the twelve individuals had bleeding complications from non-surgical causes, and two had recurrent blood loss from the GI tract. All of the patients were supplemented with 250 mg to 1000 mg of vitamin C a day. Within 24 hours of vitamin C administration, all patients appeared to have stopped the bleeding thus requiring no blood transfusions. The authors concluded that, “Vitamin C deficiency should be included in the differential diagnosis of nonspecific bleeding in surgical patients. Prolonged hospitalization, severe illness, and poor diet create vitamin C deficiency with significant clinical consequences. Oral vitamin C replacement rapidly reverses the effects of this disorder.”1
1. Blee TH, et al. Hemorrhage associated with vitamin C deficiency in surgical patients. Surgery. Apr 2002;131(4):408-12.

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