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What are chemistry panels?

Chemistry panels are groups of tests that are routinely ordered to determine a person’s general health status. They help evaluate, for example, the body’s electrolyte balance and/or the status of several major body organs. The tests are performed on a blood sample, usually drawn from a vein.

Some of the number and type of tests contained in specific panels, and the names of the panels, have been standardized nationally. Examples of common chemistry panels include:

  • Basic Metabolic Panel (BMP) – usually contains 8 tests, all of which are found in the CMP (below). It provides information about the current health of your kidneys and respiratory system as well as electrolyte and acid/base balance and level of blood glucose
  • Comprehensive Metabolic Panel (CMP) – usually includes 14 tests. It provides the same information as the BMP with the addition of the health of your liver and important blood proteins
  • Electrolyte Panel – helpful for detecting a problem with the body’s fluid and electrolyte balance
  • Lipid Panel – used to assess a person’s risk of developing cardiovascular disease
  • Liver Panel (also called Hepatic Function Panel) – used to screen for, detect, evaluate, and monitor acute and chronic liver inflammation (hepatitis), liver disease and/or damage
  • Renal Panel (also called Kidney Function Panel) – contains tests such as albumin, creatinine, BUN, eGFR to evaluate kidney function
  • Thyroid Function Panel – to help evaluate thyroid gland function and to help diagnose thyroid disorders

While most laboratories offer the same set of CMP and BMP tests, some of these other panels may be tailored to meet the needs of the health practitioner ordering the tests. (If a laboratory changes the tests in a CMP or BMP, it will usually also change the name of the panel to avoid confusion.) For a list of the tests included in each of these panels and more information, such as when they may be ordered, click on the name of the panel above to go to its full article.

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