A doctor may order a blood panel as part of a routine examination or to help confirm a suspected diagnosis. A basic blood panel may be conducted to test for medical conditions such as anemia, leukemia, or the presence of a bacterial infection. A chemistry panel is a more detailed type of blood panel and may be used to detect problems with the liver, kidneys, or thyroid gland. Electrolytes, metabolism, and problems with the pancreas may also be tested through the use of the chemical panel.
A complete blood count is the name of the most common blood panel ordered by doctors. This blood test checks red and white blood cell counts and measures hemoglobin, platelet, and hematocrit levels. These tests are often routinely performed once or twice per year, although they may also be indicated if certain illnesses are suspected.
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Red blood cell counts and white blood cell counts are tested through the use of a routine blood panel. A high red blood cell count may indicate heart or lung disease, anabolic steroid use, or dehydration. Low red blood cell counts typically indicate a condition known as anemia, caused by insufficient oxygen levels. Lowered hematocrit levels may suggest internal bleeding or hemorrhage somewhere in the body and often requires further testing.
Platelets are responsible for blood clotting and help prevent excessive bleeding when there is an injury that results in blood loss. Elevated platelet levels may be harmless or may indicate the presence of a serious medical condition called myeloproliferative disorder. Decreased platelets may be caused by leukemia, lupus, or kidney disease.
A chemistry panel may be ordered by a doctor to test for serious illnesses such as liver or kidney failure, electrolyte imbalances, or thyroid problems. If kidney problems are suspected, this blood panel may be used to check creatinine or blood urea nitrogen levels. The liver panel monitors bilirubin, protein, and albumin. Sodium, potassium, and calcium levels are tested using an electrolyte panel. Thyroid hormones may be checked to help diagnose conditions such as hypothyroidism.
In specific cases, additional blood panel types may be ordered by a physician. Fertility panels may be performed to evaluate reproductive health issues. More in-depth blood tests may be performed to test for cancer or heart problems or to confirm results from other blood tests. Any questions or concerns about a specific type of blood panel should be discussed with a doctor or other medical professional.