Oliguria and anuria are two clinical conditions frequently encountered in patients admitted to intensive care departments. By definition, oliguria is a state in which the urine volume is less than 500 ml/day or less than 20 ml/h. A normal individual on a standard diet excretes about 600 mosmol/24 h of solute to maintain adequate metabolic balance. Urea generally constitutes 40 to 50 per cent of the solute load, while sodium and potassium salts represent the bulk of the balance. Because the maximum urinary concentration is 1200 mosmol/kg H2O, 500 ml/24 h represents the minimum amount of urine output required to excrete such a solute load.

Anuria is defined as a state in which there is a total absence of urine. However, there is general agreement that this term applies to urine volumes of less than 50 to 100 ml/day.

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