What is a Comprehensive Metabolic Panel?

A. Leverkuhn

The comprehensive metabolic panel is a combination of 14 blood tests that doctors order for patients as part of preventative care. The results of a metabolic panel test can show whether various parts of the body’s systems are working normally. This test may be given as part of a routine physical in a doctor’s office. It is a good idea to have one of these tests done so that doctors have more to look at in a patient’s medical record.

There are generally 14 separate tests run on a blood sample during a comprehensive metabolic panel.
There are generally 14 separate tests run on a blood sample during a comprehensive metabolic panel.

One aspect of a comprehensive metabolic panel is checking glucose levels. This helps to catch early diabetic symptoms. Many thousands of Americans are affected by diabetes, and a metabolic panel test can help doctors practice early intervention for this chronic disease.

Blood samples are taken during a comprehensive metabolic panel.
Blood samples are taken during a comprehensive metabolic panel.

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Other parts of the comprehensive metabolic panel test assess kidney function. Blood tests involved in the metabolic panel also check on the liver and measure electrolyte levels. In addition, protein tests monitor the presence of certain proteins in the body in relation to both kidney and liver function.

A comprehensive metabolic panel checks blood glucose levels.
A comprehensive metabolic panel checks blood glucose levels.

In modern metabolic panel testing, the blood samples are taken and labeled. The patient record is often logged into a computer. Specially designated lab centers process the blood work and return conclusive results on the levels of different elements in the blood. Doctors then make care decisions based on those results.

Metabolic panel tests may assess liver function.
Metabolic panel tests may assess liver function.

The comprehensive metabolic panel represents part of a modern way of treating patients that relies heavily on diagnosis and screening. When doctors do more earlier, they can avoid having to do a lot more later, when the eventual symptoms of an unbalanced metabolism spiral out of control. Medical providers have the means to practice early intervention screenings on any patient. The key is to provide a means for patients to pay for even this relatively minor treatment.

Some consumer advocates who are involved in the health care reform debate are calling for making preventative items like a metabolic panel test part of a subsidized health care system. These experts say that funding preventative care could save the country millions of dollars annually. When doctors are able to treat patients with metabolic panels and similar testing, they often help that person take a detour around the beginnings of some common degenerative conditions that would otherwise cripple their lifestyles, and require extensive, and expensive medical treatments.

Part of a comprehensive metabolic panel is used to assess kidney function.
Part of a comprehensive metabolic panel is used to assess kidney function.

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