In 1913, Rowntree, Hurwitz and Bloomfield,1 in making a résumé of all known methods for testing the functional capacity of the liver concluded that they were all of little value in that they did not deal with functions specific to the liver. They made the possible exception of the urobilonogen test, which they found positive in most mild diseases of the liver, but it gave no information as to the extent of liver injury, as it entirely lacked the quantitative side. It was of no value, therefore, from the standpoint of prognosis.
During the course of a pharmacologic search for a cathartic of protracted action, it was discovered by Rowntree and Abel2 in 1909, that phenoltetrachlorphthalein was eliminated entirely by the liver, and they described its properties. They found it to be an odorless, tasteless chrystalline substance, insoluble in water and forming deeply colored hydrolizable salts with alkalies. They found
PIERSOL GM, BOCKUS HL. OBSERVATIONS ON THE VALUE OF PHENOLTETRA-CHLORPHTHALEIN IN ESTIMATING LIVER FUNCTION. Arch Intern Med (Chic). 1923;31(5):623–636. doi:10.1001/archinte.1923.00110170003001
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