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Basic Metabolic Panel Test

Last updated May 4, 2018

Approved by: Maulik P. Purohit MD, MPH

A Basic Metabolic Panel test results provides information on blood glucose/sugar levels, electrolyte, and acid-base balance, and is indicative of the proper functioning of kidneys.

What are the other Names for this Test? (Equivalent Terms)

  • Basic Metabolic Blood Test
  • BMP Test
  • Chemical Screen Test

What is Basic Metabolic Panel Test? (Background Information)

  • Metabolism: Human body metabolism refers collectively to all processes occurring through a continuous set of chemical reactions having physiological implications; wherein the body digests food, transports nutrients to different parts, generates energy, responds to external environment, maintains body temperature, heals injuries, expels body wastes, etc.
  • Basic Metabolic Panel (BMP) Test: A simpler version of Comprehensive Metabolic Panel Test (a group of 14 tests), BMP is a group of eight tests that measures glucose levels, electrolytes, acid-base balance, and kidney function
  • It is usually prescribed as part of a routine medical examination, before surgery, or in emergency settings to indicate kidney function, key metabolic activities, and any imbalances in the body that need immediate attention
  • A Basic Metabolic Panel test results provides information on blood glucose/sugar levels, electrolyte, and acid-base balance, and is indicative of the proper functioning of kidneys. The BMP gives a basic picture of the body metabolism and is a useful tool for early intervention screening and emergency treatment

What are the Clinical Indications for performing the Basic Metabolic Panel Test?

A Basic Metabolic Panel test may form part of a routine health check-up process (along with other tests), or as a part of other investigations to diagnose a particular medical condition, especially in an emergency situation. Some of the conditions where this test is particularly useful are:

  • Individuals in shock or comatose
  • Hypertension (High blood pressure)
  • Kidney failure
  • Respiratory distress
  • Congestive heart failure or heart rhythm changes (lung distress)
  • Hypokalemia; reduced potassium in blood (arrhythmias)
  • Diabetes-related complications (decreased blood potassium levels)
  • Dehydration/hypovolemia (shock due to decreased blood volume in body)
  • Water intoxication
  • Substance overdose
  • Liver failure
  • For hospitalized individuals, in order to monitor a variety of clinical conditions

How is the Specimen Collected for Basic Metabolic Panel Test?

Sample required: Blood

Process: Insertion of needle into a vein (arm), or by using the finger stick (finger prick) method.

Preparation required: A minimum of 8 hours of complete fasting prior to the test. However, in case of an emergency, the test is done without any preparation.

What is the Significance of the Basic Metabolic Panel Test Result?

The Basic Metabolic Panel Test results may be a significant indicator to the physician on the:

  • Condition of the kidneys
  • Blood sugar and calcium levels
  • Body electrolyte levels, such as sodium, potassium, and chloride
  • Acid-base balance of the body (metabolic acidosis, metabolic alkalosis, respiratory acidosis, and respiratory alkalosis)

The normal ranges of the different parameters that constitute a Basic Metabolic Panel test, and a general medical observation for each value, when the values fall out of normal range, are provided. These numerical values are sometimes age- and gender-linked, influenced by other medical conditions, drugs, etc. and hence they may vary. Secondary tests may be required to confirm both the results and interpretations.

Following are components of BMP with normal reference ranges:

  • Blood Urea Nitrogen: 7-20 mg/dl

Increased levels indicate heart, gastrointestinal, kidney concerns, urinary tract obstruction, etc.

Low levels indicate protein deficiency, malnutrition, and liver failure

  •  Calcium: 8.5-10.9 mg/dl

Increased calcium or vitamin D intake lead to higher than normal calcium levels, which could also be due to bacterial infections (like tuberculosis), thyroid related problems, Paget’s disease, Sarcoidosis, etc.

Decreased levels indicate a decreased intake of magnesium, vitamin D, and/or may be due to absorption issues related to kidney or liver

  • Chloride: 96-106 mmol/l

Higher levels indicate body metabolism issues, bromide poisoning, effect of drugs, and so on

Low levels could also mean metabolism concerns or excessive loss of body fluids due to vomiting, sweating, dehydration, or other disorders

  • Carbon dioxide: 20-29 mmol/l

High values could imply breathing disorder, vomiting, Cushing syndrome, etc.

Low levels indicate drug poisoning, kidney disease, and diarrhea

  • Creatinine: 0.8-1.4 mg/dl (Levels are closely linked to body mass and individual’s physical size)

High level in women could mean pregnancy related problems; in others, kidney and muscular disorders

Lower levels could indicate muscular dystrophy, etc.

  • Glucose: ~100 mg/dl

High levels are symptomatic of diabetes, pancreatic disorders, etc.

Low levels are due to reduced food intake, high insulin intake, other endocrine glands related issues 

  • Potassium: 3.7-5.2 mEq/l (Many drugs and medicines influence the amount of potassium in blood)

Higher values point to high potassium intake, possibility of recent blood transfusion, hemoglobin being broken down (Hemolysin), kidney failure, metabolic disorders, etc.

Low levels are indicative of the presence of diuretics, deficient diet potassium, renal problems, etc. 

  • Sodium: 136-144 mEq/l

High levels are due to high intake of salts, increased fluid loss, diabetes, Cushing syndrome, etc.

Low levels are suggestive of increased body water levels due to certain medical conditions, effect of hormone vasopressin, or even due to body water loss caused by vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, etc.

The laboratory test results are NOT to be interpreted as results of a "stand-alone" test. The test results have to be interpreted after correlating with suitable clinical findings and additional supplemental tests/information. Your healthcare providers will explain the meaning of your tests results, based on the overall clinical scenario.

Additional and Relevant Useful Information:

Certain medications that you may be currently taking may influence the outcome of the test. Hence, it is important to inform your healthcare provider, the complete list of medications (including any herbal supplements) you are currently taking. This will help the healthcare provider interpret your test results more accurately and avoid unnecessary chances of a misdiagnosis.

References and Information Sources used for the Article:

Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: June 4, 2013
Last updated: May 4, 2018