A technique for assessing quantitatively hepatic function by direct measurement of liver parenchymal cell uptake of 131I Rose Bengal using a scintillation camera with a digital store and retrieval system is described. Ninety-four studies were performed on 84 patients with a variety of hepatic disorders over a two-year period, the diagnosis in each case being established by liver biopsy or laparotomy. The results were compared with the clinical, biochemical and histological assessment of the patients. A good correlation was found between the half-time for hepatic uptake of 131I Rose Bengal and the histological changes, as well as with clinical prognosis measured in terms of clinical improvement or deterioration to death. The rate of liver uptake was found to be a better index than the clearance of radioisotope from the blood and was superior to conventional biochemical investigations in both icteric and anicteric patients. The test was not shown to be of clinical value in discriminating between intra- and extrahepatic causes of jaundice. It is suggested that this technique may provide a safe and sensitive method for assessing the severity of liver dysfunction and also for monitoring clinical progress, especially in situations where liver biopsy may be unreliable or hazardous.
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