Basic Metabolic Panel

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    Basic Metabolic Panel

    Basic Metabolic Panel

    Why am I having this test?

    A basic metabolic panel test is done to learn important information about your metabolism. This includes information on your kidney function, blood glucose level, and levels of important minerals (electrolytes).

    What is being tested?

    This test measures the levels of the following substances in your blood:
    • Glucose. Glucose is a simple sugar that serves as the main source of energy for your body.
    • Creatinine. Creatinine is a waste product of normal muscle activity. It is excreted from the body by the kidneys.
    • Blood urea nitrogen (BUN). Urea nitrogen is a waste product of protein breakdown. It is produced when excess protein in your body is broken down and used for energy. It is excreted by the kidneys.
    • Electrolytes. Electrolytes are minerals in your body that help keep the amount of water in your body in balance. They also help move nutrients into, and waste out of, the body, and help muscles and nerves function properly. The electrolytes measured in a basic metabolic panel include:
      • Potassium.
      • Sodium.
      • Chloride.
      • Calcium.
      • Bicarbonate.

    What kind of sample is taken?

    A blood sample is required for this test. It is usually collected by inserting a needle into a blood vessel.

    How do I prepare for this test?

    You may need to stop eating or drinking for a certain amount of time before your blood sample is taken. Follow instructions from your health care provider about eating and drinking.

    How are the results reported?

    Your test results will be reported as values for each component of the basic metabolic panel. Your health care provider will compare your results to normal ranges that were established after testing a large group of people (reference ranges). Reference ranges may vary among labs and hospitals. Abnormal values will be flagged. For this test, common reference ranges for each component are:
    • Glucose
      • Cord: 45–96 mg/dL or 2.5–5.3 mmol/L (SI units).
      • Premature infant: 20–60 mg/dL or 1.1–3.3 mmol/L.
      • Neonate: 30–60 mg/dL or 1.7–3.3 mmol/L.
      • Infant: 40–90 mg/dL or 2.2–5 mmol/L.
      • Child under 2 years old: 60–100 mg/dL or 3.3–5.5 mmol/L.
      • Adult or child over 2 years old:
        • Fasting: 70–110 mg/dL or less than 6.1 mmol/L.
        • Random (non-fasting or casual): less than or equal to 200 mg/dL or less than 11.1 mmol/L.
    • Creatinine
      • Newborn: 0.3–1.2 mg/dL.
      • Infant: 0.2–0.4 mg/dL.
      • Child: 0.3–0.7 mg/dL.
      • Adolescent: 0.5–1 mg/dL.
      • Adult:
        • Female: 0.5–1.1 mg/dL or 44–97 micromoles/L (SI units).
        • Male: 0.6–1.2 mg/dL or 53–106 micromoles/L (SI units).
    • BUN
      • Cord: 21–40 mg/dL.
      • Newborn: 3–12 mg/dL.
      • Infant: 5–18 mg/dL.
      • Child: 5–18 mg/dL.
      • Adult: 10–20 mg/dL or 3.6–7.1 mmol/L (SI units).
    • Potassium (K+)
      • Newborn: 3.9–5.9 mEq/L.
      • Infant: 4.1–5.3 mEq/L.
      • Child: 3.4–4.7 mEq/L.
      • Adult or elderly: 3.5–5 mEq/L or 3.5–5 mmol/L (SI units).
    • Sodium (Na+)
      • Newborn: 134–144 mEq/L.
      • Infant: 134–150 mEq/L.
      • Child: 136–145 mEq/L.
      • Adult or elderly: 136–145 mEq/L or 136–145 mmol/L (SI units).
    • Chloride (Cl-)
      • Premature infant: 95–110 mEq/L.
      • Newborn: 96–106 mEq/L.
      • Child: 90–110 mEq/L.
      • Adult or elderly: 98–106 mEq/L or 98–106 mmol/L (SI units).
    • Calcium (Ca)
      • Total calcium:
        • Cord: 9–11.5 mg/dL or 2.25–2.88 mmol/L.
        • Newborn under 10 days old: 7.6–10.4 mg/dL or 1.9–2.6 mmol/L.
        • 10 days to 2 years old: 9–10.6 mg/dL or 2.30–2.65 mmol/L.
        • Child: 8.8–10.8 mg/dL or 2.2–2.7 mmol/L.
        • Adult: 9–10.5 mg/dL or 2.25–2.62 mmol/L.
      • Ionized calcium:
        • Newborn: 4.20–5.58 mg/dL or 1.05–1.37 mmol/L.
        • 2 months to 18 years old: 4.80–5.52 mg/dL or 1.20–1.38 mmol/L.
        • Adult: 4.5–5.6 mg/dL or 1.05–1.30 mmol/L.
    • Bicarbonate (HCO3-)
      • Newborn: 13–22 mEq/L.
      • Infant: 20–28 mEq/L.
      • Child: 20–28 mEq/L.
      • Adult or elderly: 23–30 mEq/L or 23–30 mmol/L (SI units).

    What do the results mean?

    Diet and levels of activity can affect your test results. Sometimes they can be the cause of values that are outside of normal limits. However, values outside of normal limits may indicate a medical disorder.
    • Glucose
      • Abnormally high glucose levels (hyperglycemia) are usually associated with prediabetes mellitus and diabetes mellitus. They can also occur with severe stress on the body. This can result from surgery or events such as stroke or trauma. Overactive thyroid gland and pancreatitis or pancreatic cancer can also cause abnormally high glucose levels.
      • Abnormally low glucose levels (hypoglycemia) can occur with underactive thyroid gland and rare insulin-secreting tumors (insulinoma).
    • Creatinine
      • Abnormally high creatinine levels are most often seen in kidney failure. They can also be seen with overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism), conditions related to overgrowth of the body, abnormal breakdown of muscle tissue, and early-stage muscular dystrophy.
      • Abnormally low creatinine levels can indicate low muscle mass associated with malnutrition or late-stage muscular dystrophy.
    • BUN
      • Abnormally high BUN levels generally mean that your kidneys are not functioning normally.
      • Abnormally low BUN levels can be seen with malnutrition and liver failure.
    • Potassium
      • Abnormally high potassium levels are most often seen with kidney disease. Other causes include massive destruction of red blood cells, and adrenal gland failure.
      • Abnormally low potassium levels can be seen with excessive levels of the hormone aldosterone.
    • Sodium
      • Abnormally high sodium levels can be seen with dehydration, excessive thirst, and urination due to abnormally low levels of antidiuretic hormone (diabetes insipidus). They can also be seen with excessive levels of aldosterone or cortisol in the body.
      • Abnormally low levels of sodium can be seen with congestive heart failure, cirrhosis of the liver, kidney failure, and the syndrome of inappropriate antidiuretic hormone (SIADH).
    • Chloride
      • Abnormally high levels of chloride can be seen with acute kidney failure, diabetes insipidus, prolonged diarrhea, and poisoning with aspirin or bromide.
      • Abnormally low levels of chloride can be seen with prolonged vomiting, acute adrenal gland failure, and SIADH.
    • Calcium
      • Abnormally high levels of calcium can occur with excessive activity of the parathyroid glands, certain cancers, and a type of inflammation seen in sarcoidosis and tuberculosis.
      • Abnormally low levels of calcium can be seen with underactive parathyroid glands, vitamin D deficiency, and acute pancreatitis.
    • Bicarbonate
      • Abnormally high bicarbonate levels are seen after prolonged vomiting and diuretic therapy, which lead to a decrease in the amount of acid in the body (metabolic alkalosis). They can also be seen in conditions that increase the amount of bicarbonate in the body. These conditions include rare hereditary disorders that interfere with how your kidneys handle electrolytes.
      • Abnormally low bicarbonate levels are seen with conditions that cause your body to produce too much acid (metabolic acidosis). These conditions include uncontrolled diabetes mellitus and poisoning with aspirin, methanol, or antifreeze (ethylene glycol).

    Talk with your health care provider about what your results mean.

    Questions to ask health care provider

    Ask your health care provider, or the department that is doing the test:
    • When will my results be ready?
    • How will I get my results?
    • What are my treatment options?
    • What other tests do I need?
    • What are my next steps?


    • A basic metabolic panel test is performed to learn about your kidney function, blood glucose level, and levels of important minerals (electrolytes).
    • You may need to stop eating or drinking for a certain amount of time before your blood sample is taken. Follow instructions from your health care provider about eating or drinking.
    • Abnormally low or abnormally high levels of the tested elements may indicate certain diseases and conditions. Talk with your health care provider about what your results mean.

    This information is not intended to replace advice given to you by your health care provider. Make sure you discuss any questions you have with your health care provider.

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