To determine your general health status; to screen for, diagnose, or monitor a variety of diseases and conditions, such as diabetes or kidney disease
When you have a routine health exam; when you are ill or being monitored for a specific condition
A blood sample drawn from a vein
Depending on the reason for testing, you may be instructed to fast (drinking nothing but water) for at least 8 hours prior to the blood draw. Follow any instructions you are given by your healthcare practitioner. Be sure your healthcare practitioner knows about all prescription and over-the-counter medicines, herbs, vitamins, and supplements you are taking.
The basic metabolic panel (BMP) is a group of 8 tests that measures several substances in your blood. It is one of the most commonly ordered lab tests.
The BMP gives your healthcare practitioner important information about the current status of your body’s metabolism (hence the name metabolic panel). The BMP provides information on your blood sugar (glucose) level, the balance of electrolytes and fluids, and the health of your kidneys. Abnormal results, and especially combinations of abnormal results, can indicate a problem that needs to be addressed and may require additional testing.
The BMP includes the following tests:
Electrolytes—these are minerals found in body tissues and blood in the form of dissolved salts. Electrolytes help move nutrients into the body's cells and remove wastes out of cells. They help maintain a healthy water balance and help stabilize the body's acid/base (pH) level. The following 4 tests are commonly called electrolytes:
The basic metabolic panel (BMP) may be used to check the health of your kidneys, the status of your electrolyte and acid/base balance, as well as your blood glucose level – all of which are related to your body's metabolism. It can be used to screen for conditions such as diabetes or kidney disease and may also be used to monitor known conditions, such as high blood pressure (hypertension).
A BMP may be ordered when you have a routine health exam. The panel is also often ordered when you are ill, in the hospital, or in the emergency room. It may be ordered at regular intervals when you have an ongoing or long-term condition that is being monitored.
Results of the tests that are part of the BMP are typically evaluated together to look for patterns of results. A single abnormal test result may mean something different than if several test results are abnormal.
Results that are out of range on any of the tests included in the BMP can be due to a variety of different conditions, including kidney disease, breathing problems, and complications related to diabetes. Typically, if any results are out of range, one or more follow-up tests are performed to help pinpoint the cause and/or help establish a diagnosis.
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See the articles on the individual tests for more detailed information about each one, including their reference ranges.
No. Each of these tests may be ordered individually. However, if healthcare practitioners are interested in monitoring two or more individual BMP components, they may order the entire BMP because it offers more information. Alternatively, they may order individual tests when monitoring specific conditions.
The BMP typically includes 8 tests. The comprehensive metabolic panel (CMP) usually includes 14 tests – the 8 from the BMP as well as 2 protein tests (albumin and total protein) and 4 liver tests (ALP, ALT, AST, and bilirubin). Your healthcare provider may order a CMP rather than a BMP if the practitioner wants to get a more complete picture of the health of your organs or to check for specific conditions, such as diabetes or liver disease or kidney disease.
The results of your BMP are interpreted by your healthcare provider within the context of other tests that you have had done as well as other factors, such as your medical history. A single result that is slightly high or low may or may not have medical significance. There are several reasons why a test result may differ on different days and why it may fall outside a designated reference range.
Thus, a test value that falls outside of the established reference range supplied by the laboratory may mean nothing significant. Generally, this is the case when the test value is only slightly higher or lower than the reference range and this is why a healthcare practitioner may repeat a test for you and why the practitioner may look at results from prior times when you had the same test performed.
However, a result outside the range may indicate a problem and warrant further investigation. Your healthcare provider will evaluate your test results in the context of your medical history, physical examination, and other relevant factors to determine whether a result that falls outside of the reference range means something significant for you.
For more, read the articles on Reference Ranges and What They Mean and How Reliable is Laboratory Testing?
A variety of prescription and over-the-counter drugs can affect the results of the components of the BMP. Be sure to tell your healthcare provider about any medications you are taking. Likewise, it is important to give a complete history as many other factors can also affect the interpretation of your results.
Sources Used in Current Review
©2019. University of Rochester Medical Center. Health Encyclopedia: Basic Metabolic Panel. Available online at https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?contenttypeid=167&contentid=basic_metabolic_panel_blood. Accessed May 2019.
Tietz Textbook of Clinical Chemistry and Molecular Diagnostics. Nader Rifai. 6th edition, Elsevier Health Sciences; 2017.
Clarke, W. and Dufour, D. R., Editors (2016). Contemporary Practice in Clinical Chemistry, 3rd Edition, AACC Press, Washington, DC.
Sources Used in Previous Reviews
Thomas, Clayton L., Editor (1997). Taber's Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary. F.A. Davis Company, Philadelphia, PA [18th Edition].
Pagana, Kathleen D. & Pagana, Timothy J. (2001). Mosby's Diagnostic and Laboratory Test Reference 5th Edition: Mosby, Inc., Saint Louis, MO.
Henry's Clinical Diagnosis and Management by Laboratory Methods. 21st ed. McPherson R, Pincus M, eds. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier: 2007, P. 147.
Quest Diagnostics. Chemistry Screen, Patient Health Library. Previously available online at http://www.questdiagnostics.com/kbase/topic/medtest/tu6207/descrip.htm. Accessed February 2009.
MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. Basic metabolic panel. Available online at http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003462.htm. Accessed November 2015.