Liver size has been estimated clinically and by a non-invasive ultrasound technique in 16 normal subjects, 16 patients with cirrhosis, 10 patients with chronic biliary obstruction, and three patients with primary hepatoma. Antipyrine disposition was also measured in each subject. Hepatomegaly was not clinically detectable until there was approximately a 20% increase in liver size. Additional increases in size correlated significantly with clinical estimates of hepatomegaly. Antipyrine clearance had a three-fold range in normal subjects. Its mean value was significantly reduced in each subgroup of patients with liver disease. However, 48% of patients with liver disease had values within the normal range. In normal subjects there was a significant correlation between antipyrine clearance and liver volume. Thus, intersubject variation in clearance normalised for liver volume was less than clearance alone. Antipyrine clearance normalised for liver volume in patients with liver disease was significantly lower than in normal subjects and there was no overlap with normal subjects. In conclusion, assessment of drug metabolising efficiency per unit volume of liver increased the discrimination in differentiating subjects with normal from abnormal livers.
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