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Electrolyte Panel Blood Test

Last updated April 30, 2018

Approved by: Krish Tangella MD, MBA, FCAP

The Electrolyte Panel Blood Test is a test to assess the levels of the major electrolytes. It is a routinely ordered test that gives insight into a possible electrolyte imbalance, which could cause a variety of health conditions.


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

  • Lytes Blood Test
  • Electrolyte Blood Test 

What is Electrolyte Panel Blood Test? (Background Information)

  • Electrolytes are chemicals that dissociate in solution and conduct an electrical current. They are important to the body’s acid-base, electrical, and hydrostatic stability. Electrolytes are mainly acquired through the diet
  • Major electrolytes include sodium (Na+), potassium (K+), chloride (Cl-), bicarbonate (HCO3-), and phosphate (HPO42-). However, phosphate levels are not included in a general Electrolyte Panel Blood Test
  • Sodium is the most abundant cation or positively-charged ion, in the fluid surrounding cells. Potassium is the most abundant cation inside the cells
  • Chloride is the most abundant anion or negatively-charged ion, in the fluid surrounding cells. Phosphate is the most abundant anion inside the cells
  • One of the characteristics of electrolytes that make them important to the body is their acid-base balancing ability. Certain electrolytes, such as bicarbonate and phosphate, act as buffers. Buffers help body fluids like blood maintain a narrow pH range in the face of fluctuating levels of acidifying and alkalizing by-products. In the absence of buffers, blood and other fluids are susceptible to rapid and damaging pH changes
  • Another reason electrolytes are important is their electrical conductivity. Electrically active cells, such as muscle cells and neurons, rely on electrolytes to transmit electrical impulses vital to their function
  • Also, electrolytes are necessary for osmotic regulation; when, they allow cells to regulate the flow of water across the cell membranes. Osmotic regulation protects cells from bursting, due to an influx of water, if their surroundings lack salt
  • The Electrolyte Panel Blood Test is a test to assess the levels of the major electrolytes. It is a routinely ordered test that gives insight into a possible electrolyte imbalance, which could cause a variety of health conditions

What are the Clinical Indications for performing the Electrolyte Panel Blood Test?

Following are the clinical indications for performing an Electrolyte Panel Blood Test:

  • Routine health check-up
  • As a follow-up to various other tests
  • Monitoring the effects of diuretic drugs
  • Abnormal blood pressure
  • Muscle twitches and spasms
  • Muscle fatigue
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abnormal heart rhythms
  • Large changes in the amount of urine produced
  • Significant trauma
  • Blood loss
  • Altered mental status 

How is the Specimen Collected for Electrolyte Panel Blood Test?

Following is the specimen collection process for Electrolyte Panel Blood Test:

Sample required: Blood

Process: Insertion of a needle into an arm vein.

Preparation required: No special preparation is needed prior to the test. 

What is the Significance of the Electrolyte Panel Blood Test Result?

The significance of Electrolyte Panel Blood Test is explained:

  • Elevated electrolytes may indicate:
    • Acidic blood (metabolic acidosis or respiratory acidosis)
    • Kidney disorder (acute and chronic renal failure)
    • Addison’s disease
    • Pregnancy
    • Dehydration
    • Insulin deficiency
    • Widespread internal or external cell destruction
  • Decreased electrolytes may indicate:
    • Alkaline blood (metabolic alkalosis or respiratory alkalosis)
    • Excessive excretion of electrolytes at the kidney
    • Insulin excess 

Abnormal levels of specific electrolytes may indicate certain specific health conditions, depending on the clinical scenario being investigated. 

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 factors may interfere with the results of the Electrolyte Panel Blood Test. These include pregnancy and consumption of electrolyte-rich foods 

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: Aug. 4, 2014
Last updated: April 30, 2018