What Is a Comprehensive Metabolic Panel?

A comprehensive metabolic panel (CMP) is a series of blood tests that give your doctor a snapshot of your body’s chemistry and the way it is using energy (your metabolism). It’s also called a chem 14, Chem-12, or CHEM 20.

Most people get a CMP as part of their yearly checkup. Your doctor might also want a CMP to diagnose you with a condition, keep track of any chronic conditions you have, or make sure certain medications aren’t hurting your liver or kidneys. He might tell you not to eat or drink anything except water for up to 12 hours before you get this test.

The CMP can tell your doctor:

What Do My Results Mean?

Your report will usually have one column called a “reference range” and another for your results. If your results are inside the reference range, they’re normal. If they’re above or below it, they’re abnormal. This can mean a few things:

Sometimes the results come back abnormal and nothing is wrong. That’s because a lot of things can affect a CMP, such as:

  • Medications you might be taking, like steroids, insulin, and hormones
  • Eating or drinking before the test
  • Exercising before the test

If any of your results are not what they should be, your doctor might ask you to come back for more tests. This will help your doctor figure out if there’s a true problem or not.

What’s Normal?

Reference ranges depend on the lab that handles your blood tests. Why? Because different labs use their own special equipment. They also have different ways of analyzing your blood. General ranges for what’s considered normal are listed below. But always go by the ranges that are on your report because that’s what your doctor will use.

There are more than a dozen tests in a CMP, but your doctor may change a few to look for certain clues about what’s going on in your body. Listed below are the main tests usually included in a CMP:

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Liver Tests

These check three substances your liver makes: ALP, ALT, and AST. They also check bilirubin, a waste product of your liver. Normal ranges are:

  • ALP: 44 to 147 international units per liter (IU/L)
  • ALT: 10 to 40 IU/L
  • AST: 10 to 34 IU/L
  • Bilirubin: 0.3 to 1.9 milligrams per decileter (mg/dL)

Kidney Tests

The CMP checks two waste products of your kidneys: blood urea nitrogen (BUN) and creatinine. Normal ranges are:

  • BUN: 6 to 20 mg/dL
  • Creatinine: 0.6 to 1.3 mg/dL

Electrolytes

These help your body balance its fluids. They also help control your heartbeat, and how your muscles and your brain work. Abnormal results could mean you have heart disease or kidney disease, or that you’re dehydrated. Normal ranges are:

Proteins

The CMP tests albumin, the main protein made by your liver, and the proteins in your blood in general. Proteins are important for healthy muscles, bones, blood, and organs. If these come back low, it could mean liver or kidney disease or a problem with nutrition. Normal ranges are:

  • Albumin: 3.4 to 5.4 grams per deciliter (g/dL)
  • Total protein: 6.0 to 8.3 g/dL

Glucose

This is also commonly called blood sugar. If it’s too high, it could mean you have diabetes. If it’s too low, you could have a condition called hypoglycemia. The normal range is 70 to 100 mg/dL.

Calcium

This is important for healthy muscles, nerves, and hormones. If calcium is abnormal, you might have a hormone imbalance or problems with your kidneys, bones, or pancreas. The normal range is 8.5 to 10.2 mg/dL.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by William Blahd, MD on December 23, 2016

Sources

SOURCES:

Scripps Health: “Comprehensive Metabolic Panel.”

University of Rochester Medical Center: “Comprehensive Metabolic Panel.”

American Association for Clinical Chemistry (labtestsonline.org): “Comprehensive Metabolic Panel,” “Reference Ranges and What They Mean.”

The Nemours Foundation: “Blood Test: Comprehensive Metabolic Panel.”

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