Clearance Calculations

The renal plasma clearance is the volume of plasma from which a substance is completely removed in one minute by excretion in the urine. Notice that the units for renal plasma clearance are ml/min. In the case of inulin, which is filtered but neither reabsorbed nor secreted, the amount of inulin that enters the urine is that which is contained in the volume of plasma filtered. The clearance of inulin is thus equal to the GFR (120 ml/min in the previous example). This volume of filtered plasma, however, also contains other solutes that may be reabsorbed to varying degrees. If a portion of a filtered solute is reabsorbed, the amount excreted in the urine is less than that which was contained in the 120 ml of plasma filtered. Thus, the renal plasma clearance of a substance that is reabsorbed must be less than the GFR (table 17.4).

If a substance is not reabsorbed, all of the filtered amount will be cleared. If this substance is, in addition, secreted by active transport into the renal tubules from the peritubular blood, an additional amount of plasma can be cleared of that substance. Therefore, the renal plasma clearance of a substance that is filtered and secreted is greater than the GFR (table 17.5). In order to compare the renal "handling" of various substances in terms of their reabsorption or secretion, the renal plasma clearance is calculated using the same formula used for determining the GFR:

Renal plasma clearance =


V = urine volume per minute U = concentration of substance in urine P = concentration of substance in plasma

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