Blood phenytoin (diphenylhydantoin) concentrations were measured after each dosage change in 12 epileptic patients who were given increasing oral doses of phenytoin. In each of these patients a dosage increment beyond the dosage that produced a blood phenytoin level of 6-9 μg/ml. caused a disproportionately great increase in the blood concentration of drug. This effect might be expected if the limit of the body's capacity to metabolize phenytoin were being reached. As oral dosages were increased in one patient, measurements of the rate of urinary excretion of phenytoin metabolite showed that the phase of rapid rise in blood phenytoin concentration coincided with a failure to increase the rate of phenytoin metabolite excretion. Awareness of the non-linear relation between oral dose and blood concentration of phenytoin in the individual patient, and realization that the phase of rapid rise in blood phenytoin concentration occurs through the `therapeutic' range of 10-20 μg/ml., is of importance to those who use blood phenytoin levels as a guide to the adequacy of anticonvulsant therapy.
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