Blood chemistry tests are blood tests that determine the concentrations of specific chemicals in a blood sample. They provide information about how well specific organs are functioning and can aid in detecting abnormalities. Blood chemistry tests are sometimes referred to as chemistry panels.
There are numerous blood chemistry tests available. They are used to determine the concentration of chemicals such as enzymes, electrolytes, fats (also known as lipids), hormones, sugars, proteins, vitamins, and minerals. Frequently, multiple chemicals are grouped and measured concurrently.
Several frequently performed blood chemistry tests.
Different tests may be used to determine the concentration of various chemicals. The following are some of the most frequently performed blood chemistry tests.
Sodium, potassium, chloride, magnesium, phosphate, and bicarbonate electrolyte panel is used to determine the concentrations of sodium, potassium, chloride, magnesium, phosphate, and bicarbonate.
Blood urea nitrogen (BUN) and creatinine levels are determined during kidney function tests (also called a renal panel).
Alanine aminotransferase (ALT), alkaline phosphatase (ALP), aspartate transaminase (AST), bilirubin, albumin, and total protein are all measured in liver function tests.
A basic metabolic panel (BMP) consists of electrolyte and kidney function tests and glucose and calcium measurements.
A comprehensive metabolic panel (CMP) consists of an electrolyte panel, kidney function tests, liver function tests, and glucose and calcium measurements.
Why are blood chemistry tests conducted?
Blood chemistry tests are very common. They are frequently performed as part of routine checkups, but they can be performed at any time.
Blood chemistry tests can be used to determine the following:
- acquire knowledge about your general health
- examine the functioning of specific organs, such as the kidneys, liver, and thyroid.
- examine the electrolyte balance of the body
- aid in the diagnosis of diseases and conditions
- provide chemical concentrations (a baseline) for future blood chemistry tests
- determine the effect of a treatment on specific organs
- monitor for cancer or another disease (as a part of follow-up)
Blood chemistry tests are performed in the following manner:
Preparation for blood chemistry tests varies according to the type of chemical being measured. You may be given special instructions to follow before having blood chemistry tests if necessary.
You may be instructed to fast for several hours (except for water) before having blood chemistry tests. This is referred to as fasting.
Certain medications may also affect the results of blood chemistry tests. You may be asked to discontinue certain medications before blood chemistry testing. Determine whether you should abstain from any medications and for how long.
Typically, blood chemistry tests are performed in a community laboratory or hospital. Typically, blood is drawn from an arm vein. An elastic band is wrapped around your upper arm (a tourniquet) to apply pressure to the area and make the veins more visible. You may be asked to make a fist to highlight the veins—cleansing and disinfection the skin. A needle is inserted into the vein to withdraw a small amount of blood. You may feel a prick or sting.
Blood is drawn into a tube labeled with your name and other identifying information. Occasionally, more than one blood tube is collected. Remove the tourniquet and withdraw the needle. When the needle is withdrawn, you may experience mild discomfort. Until the bleeding stops, pressure is applied to the needle’s area. Apply a small bandage to the area.
The blood is then examined in the laboratory by a specialist (a lab technologist) using microscopes and other specialized equipment.
Generally, blood chemistry tests are painless. They are typically mild if side effects occur at the injection site. Possible adverse effects include the following:
What the findings imply
Blood chemistry test results are expressed numerically and frequently vary according to certain factors such as gender, age, and medical history. They must be compared to a normal reference range and previous results to be meaningful.
Certain blood chemistry tests reveal specific health issues. Other blood chemistry tests provide more general information that can assist physicians in identifying potential health problems. Blood chemistry test results may assist doctors in determining whether additional tests or procedures are necessary to make a diagnosis. Additionally, the information may assist your doctor in developing or revising treatment plans.
A physician familiar with your medical history and current state of health is the best person to explain your blood chemistry test results and their implications for you.
What happens if the results are out of the ordinary?
Your doctor may recommend additional tests, procedures, follow-up care, or treatment.