Nineteen patients with severe oedema due to either cirrhosis of the liver or to congestive cardiac failure, who had failed to respond to previous diuretic therapy, were treated with either increasing doses of frusemide (Group A), or with frusemide in a fixed dose of 80 mg daily and increasing doses of spironolactone (Group B). In Group A there was an inverse correlation between the baseline 24-hr urinary sodium: potassium (Na : K) ratio and the 24-hr urinary potassium excretion during diuresis, and a direct correlation between the urinary Na : K ratio before and after diuresis. Thus, in patients of this group during diuresis, there was a significantly higher urinary potassium excretion in those with a baseline urinary Na : K ratio of less than 1, as compared with those with a ratio of greater than 1. In Group B a satisfactory diuresis was achieved without marked urinary potassium loss in those patients with a baseline urinary Na : K ratio of less than 1, whereas no diuresis was obtained in the two patients with a baseline urinary Na : K ratio of greater than 1. These results suggest that the measurement of the baseline urinary Na : K ratio is of help in determining the potential value of spironolactone in patients with resistant oedema.
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