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Basic metabolic panel

Definition

The basic metabolic panel is a group of blood tests that provides information about your body's metabolism.

See also:

Alternative Names

SMAC7; Sequential multi-channel analysis with computer-7; SMA7; Metabolic panel 7; CHEM-7

How the test is performed

Blood is drawn from a vein, usually from the inside of the elbow or the back of the hand. The site is cleaned with germ-killing medicine (antiseptic). The health care provider wraps an elastic band around the upper arm to apply pressure to the area and make the vein swell with blood.

Next, the health care provider gently inserts a needle into the vein. The blood collects into an airtight vial or tube attached to the needle. The elastic band is removed from your arm.

Once the blood has been collected, the needle is removed, and the puncture site is covered to stop any bleeding.

In infants or young children, a sharp tool called a lancet may be used to puncture the skin and make it bleed. The blood collects into a small glass tube called a pipette, or onto a slide or test strip. A bandage may be placed over the area if there is any bleeding.

How to prepare for the test

You should not eat or drink for 8 hours before the test.

How the test will feel

When the needle is inserted to draw blood, some people feel moderate pain, while others feel only a prick or stinging sensation. Afterward, there may be some throbbing.

Why the test is performed

This test can be used to evaluate kidney function, blood acid/base balance, and your levels of blood sugar, and electrolytes. Depending on which lab you use, a basic metabolic panel may also check your levels of calcium and a protein called albumin.

Normal Values

  • BUN: 7 to 20 mg/dL
  • CO2 (carbon dioxide): 20 to 29 mmol/L
  • Creatinine: 0.8 to 1.4 mg/dL
  • Glucose: 64 to 128 mg/dL
  • Serum chloride: 101 to 111 mmol/L
  • Serum potassium: 3.7 to 5.2 mEq/L
  • Serum sodium: 136 to 144 mEq/L

Key to abbreviations:

  • L = liter
  • dL = deciliter = 0.1 liter
  • mg = milligram
  • mmol = millimole
  • mEq = milliequivalents

What abnormal results mean

Abnormal results can be due to a variety of different medical conditions, including kidney failure, breathing problems, and diabetes-related complications. See the individual tests for detailed information:

What the risks are

Veins and arteries vary in size from one patient to another and from one side of the body to the other. Obtaining a blood sample from some people may be more difficult than from others.

Other risks associated with having blood drawn are slight but may include:

  • Excessive bleeding
  • Fainting or feeling light-headed
  • Hematoma (blood accumulating under the skin)
  • Infection (a slight risk any time the skin is broken)

Review Date: 5/7/2009
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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