Renal function was evaluated in 40 patients with fulminant hepatic failure, They were divided into two groups on the basis of glomerular filtration rates greater than 40 ml/min or less than 25 ml/min. A number of patients in group 1 had markedly abnormal renal retention of sodium together with a reduced free water clearance and low potassium excretion which could be explained by increased proximal tubular reabsorption of sodium. The patients in group 2 had evidence that renal tubular integrity was maintained when the glomerular filtration rate was greater than or equal ml/min (functional renal failure), but evidence of tubular damage was present when this was less than 3 ml/min (acute tubular necrosis).
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