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To give your healthcare provider important information about the current status of your metabolism, including the health of your kidneys and liver as well as electrolyte and acid/base balance and levels of blood glucose and blood proteins; to monitor known conditions, such as hypertension, and to monitor the use of medications to check for any kidney- or liver-related side effects
As part of a routine health exam; when you are being monitored for a specific condition or are taking medications that may impact your kidney or liver
A blood sample drawn from a vein in your arm
You may need to fast (nothing but water) for 10 to 12 hours prior to the blood draw. Depending on the reason for ordering the CMP, it may be drawn after fasting or on a random basis. Follow any instructions you are given.
The comprehensive metabolic panel (CMP) is a frequently ordered panel of 14 tests that gives a healthcare provider important information about the current status of a person's metabolism, including the health of the kidneys and liver, electrolyte and acid/base balance as well as levels of blood glucose and blood proteins. Abnormal results, and especially combinations of abnormal results, can indicate a problem that needs to be addressed.
The CMP includes the following tests:
The comprehensive metabolic panel (CMP) is used as a broad screening tool to evaluate organ function and check for conditions such as diabetes, liver disease, and kidney disease. The CMP may also be ordered to monitor known conditions, such as hypertension, and to monitor people taking specific medications for any kidney- or liver-related side effects. If a health practitioner is interested in following two or more individual CMP components, he or she may order the entire CMP because it offers more information.
The CMP is routinely ordered as part of a blood work-up for a medical exam or yearly physical. While the individual tests are sensitive, they do not usually tell a health practitioner specifically what is wrong. Abnormal test results or groups of test results are usually followed up with other specific tests to confirm or rule out a suspected diagnosis.
Results of the tests that are part of the CMP 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. For example, a high result on just one of the liver enzyme tests has different implications than high results on several liver enzyme tests.
Sometimes, especially in hospitalized patients, several sets of CMPs, often performed on different days, may be evaluated to gain insights into the underlying condition and response to treatment.
Out-of-range results for any of the tests in the CMP can be due to a variety of different conditions, including, for example, kidney failure, breathing problems, and diabetes-related complications. 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.
See the articles on the individual tests for more detailed information about each one.
A variety of prescription and over-the-counter drugs can affect the results of the components of the CMP. 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.
The CMP is made up of 14 tests; the basic metabolic panel (BMP) is a subset of those and has 8 tests. It does not include the liver (ALP, ALT, AST, and bilirubin) and protein (albumin and total protein) tests. A healthcare provider may order a CMP rather than a BMP if he or she wants to get a more complete picture of the status of a person's organ function or to check for specific conditions, such as diabetes or liver or kidney disease.
The results of your CMP 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 health practitioner may repeat a test on you and why he or she 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?
Sources Used in Current Review
MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. Comprehensive metabolic panel. Available online at http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003468.htm. Accessed November 2015.
Sources Used in Previous Reviews
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. Available online at http://www.questdiagnostics.com/kbase/topic/medtest/tu6207/descrip.htm. Accessed February 2009.
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.