To determine your general health status; to screen for, diagnose, or monitor any one of a variety of diseases and conditions, such as kidney disease, liver disease, high blood pressure (hypertension) or diabetes; to monitor the use of specific medications that may affect kidney health or liver function
When you have a routine health exam as suggested by your healthcare practitioner; when you are ill or being monitored for a specific condition or side effects from certain medications
A blood sample drawn from a vein
Depending on the reason for testing, you may need 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 comprehensive metabolic panel (CMP) is a group of 14 tests that measures several different substances in your blood. It is one of the most commonly ordered lab tests.
The CMP gives your healthcare practitioner important information about the current status of your body's metabolism (hence the name metabolic panel). The CMP provides information on your blood sugar (glucose) levels, the balance of electrolytes and fluid as well as the health of your kidneys and liver. Abnormal results, and especially combinations of abnormal results, can indicate a problem that needs to be addressed and may require additional testing.
The CMP 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 help remove wastes out of the 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 comprehensive metabolic panel (CMP) is used as a broad screening tool to evaluate the health of your organs and to screen for conditions such as diabetes, liver disease, and kidney disease. The CMP may also be ordered to monitor known conditions, such as high blood pressure (hypertension), and to monitor treatment with specific medications that may affect kidney or liver function. If your healthcare practitioner is interested in monitoring two or more individual CMP components, your practitioner may order the entire CMP because it offers more information.
The CMP may be ordered when you have a routine health exam. The panel is often ordered as part of a medical exam when you are ill, in the hospital, or in the emergency department. CMPs may be ordered regular intervals when you have an ongoing or long-term condition that is being monitored or when you are taking specific medication that may affect liver or kidney function.
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.
The results report will usually have one column called a "reference range" and another for your results. Results that fall outside the reference range for any of the tests in the CMP can be due to a variety of different conditions.
View a Sample Report
While the individual tests are sensitive, they do not usually tell your healthcare practitioner specifically what is wrong. Abnormal test results or groups of test results are usually followed up with other specific tests to help confirm or rule out a suspected diagnosis.
See the articles on the individual tests for more detailed information about each one.
No. Each of these tests may be ordered individually. However, if your healthcare practitioner is interested in following two or more individual CMP components, your practitioner may order the entire CMP because it offers more information. Alternatively, a healthcare provider may order individual tests when monitoring specific conditions.
The CMP typically includes 14 tests. The basic metabolic panel (BMP) is a subset of the CMP and usually includes 8 tests. It does not include the liver tests (ALP, ALT, AST, and bilirubin) and protein tests (albumin and total protein). Healthcare practitioners may order a CMP rather than a BMP if they want to get a more complete picture of the health of your organs or to check for specific conditions, such as diabetes, liver disease, 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 healthcare practitioner may repeat a test on 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 CMP tests. 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
Current review performed by Rohit Bhandari, Ph.D.
©2019. University of Rochester Medical Center. Health Encyclopedia: Comprehensive Metabolic Panel. Available online at https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?contenttypeid=167&contentid=comprehensive_metabolic_panel. 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
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.
MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. Comprehensive metabolic panel. Available online at http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003468.htm. Accessed November 2015.