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Basic Metabolic Panel: Procedure, Preparation, and Risks

Basic Metabolic Panel is a mixture of tests that help doctors assess how your body is functioning. It could be taken as a part of your routine annual checkup, or your doctor may specifically request it in case they need a better perspective of how you’re doing in terms of your internal health. However, you don’t need to be present in the hospital for all these tests, in fact, the only thing required from you is a blood sample.

What Tests Does a Basic Metabolic Panel Consist Of?

There are 9 elements that the basic metabolic panel checks for in your blood sample and their quantities can be indicative of various health concerns. The basic metabolic panel is a blood or serum test for the following:

  • Blood urea nitrogen (BUN)
  • Creatinine
  • Glucose
  • Albumin
  • Carbon dioxide
  • Calcium
  • Sodium
  • Potassium
  • Chloride

Your sodium, potassium and chloride levels are tested as part of your electrolyte panel. Maintaining a good electrolyte balance is crucial for the healthy functioning of the cardiovascular, nervous and muscular systems.

Why Is a Basic Metabolic Panel Performed?

A basic metabolic panel can tell your doctor whether you have any health concerns related to blood filtration, the balance of acids and bases in your bloodstream, your blood sugar levels or your electrolyte levels.

If the outcomes back normal, it means there are no such issues to be concerned about, however, if the test results come back abnormal, chances are that you have issues with either your kidneys, your lungs or your pancreas. In case the test results are abnormal, more detailed tests are ordered to get to the root of the problem. The advantage of a panel test such as this is that it only requires a blood sample from you and all the tests can be conducted using just that one sample.

Basic Metabolic Panel Procedure and Preparation

A small amount of your blood sample is all that is required to perform all the tests of a basic metabolic panel. The blood sample is obtained through a method called a venipuncture, which in simple terms is just a needle inserted into your vein to draw blood. The vein can be either from your arm or your hand. The blood is then stored in a test tube and sent to the lab for analysis. This is all you need to visit the hospital for and within a few days you can get your results as well.

You don’t need to do everything special to prepare for this test like fasting or stopping your medication unless your doctor specifically requests you to.

What Are the Risks of a Simple Metabolic Panel?

There are no serious risks associated with giving a blood sample for a basic metabolic panel because it is essentially just like a regular blood test. The only thing the doctor needs to be mindful of is using a sterilized needle because diseases can spread very quickly and easily through shared needles. However, this should not concern you because hospitals tend to use new needles for each new patient.

When the blood is being drawn from your arm, you might feel a slight pinching sensation, which although uncomfortable, isn’t painful. Once the needle is removed you might feel a throbbing sensation which again is normal and nothing to be worried about. You might be asked to apply pressure to your skin where the needle pierced it, that is until it’s bandaged.

You may also be asked to avoid any sort of heavy lifting for the rest of the day. There are some minor risks of a basic metabolic panel but since they are so rare, the likelihood of you experiencing them is very low. These include fainting or feeling lightheaded. You could also experience hematoma which causes bruising where the blood accumulates under the skin. Infections are always a risk when the test conditions are unsanitary, however, if proper cleanliness precautions have been taken, this should not occur.

The rarest would be excessive or unstoppable bleeding after the test. This is always a sign of something more serious going on in your body. In case of such an occurrence, measures are taken to reduce your bleeding and more tests are ordered to narrow down the culprit.

Abnormal Results for a Basic Metabolic Panel

When the results are normal, nothing more is required from the patient but when they are abnormal, the patient is called in for more tests. For example, high BUN levels could be an indication of kidney disease or even congestive heart failure. High creatinine levels could also point to kidney disease.

Fasting blood sugar amounts are the best method to diagnose diabetes. High sugar levels are almost always an indication of diabetes.

Low blood protein or albumin levels are also associated with kidney or liver disease.

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