Basic Metabolic Panel

The basic metabolic panel (BMP) is a set of seven to eight blood tests that measure certain nutrients and electrolytes essential for basic body functions. The basic metabolic panel typically measures the serum or plasma levels of sodium, potassium, chloride, and bicarbonate in the body. The BMP is also used to test other electrolytes such as: blood urea nitrogen (BUN), creatinine, and glucose to check for or rule out diabetes or kidney disease.

In an emergency situation, the blood sample is processed right away, and the results reported in less than an hour. Results of all hospital in-patient routine tests are made available within three to six hours. Majority of specimens handled at RML are for outpatient services and are usually shipped to a central location. In such cases, reports are due back at the physician’s office by the next day.


Sodium is the major mineral in the blood and body fluids, and it plays a crucial role in regulating the amount of water throughout the body. It passes in and out of cells through pores called ion channels. This ionic transfer is essential for many body functions, including the transmission of electrical signals in the brain and muscles. Low sodium levels in children may be caused by severe diarrhea or vomiting. Low sodium levels in the blood can result in swelling of the brain as water moves into the brain cells. High sodium levels may be caused by dehydration in which the amount of water lost is far greater than the amount of sodium lost. High blood sodium levels can result in shrinking of the brain as water moves out of the brain cells into the blood. Due to these changes, very high or very low blood sodium results in confusion, weakness, lethargy, which may lead to seizures.


Chloride is an element in the blood and body fluid that functions like sodium to maintain fluid balance. Disproportionate loss of chloride can lead to the body’s environment (Ph level) becoming more acidic.


Potassium is the major electrolyte inside cells. Its passage in and out of cells is essential to regulate heart contractions. High potassium levels can be dangerous and may result in abnormal heart rhythms. Low potassium levels also increase the risk of dangerous, abnormal heartbeat and are associated with muscle weakness.


Bicarbonate is a measure of the alkalinity of the body’s tissues. The bicarbonate content of the body is delicately balanced by the kidneys and the lungs. Its job is to prevent the body’s environment from getting too acidic or too basic.

Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN)

Blood urea nitrogen (BUN) measures how well the kidneys are working. Urea is a nitrogen-containing waste product created in the body through the metabolism and breakdown of proteins. When the kidneys are not functioning properly, there is an increase of BUN levels in the blood. Dehydration and excessive bleeding also aid in elevating the BUN content of the blood. Malnutrition may also be associated with low BUN levels.



Creatinine is a compound created by the breakdown of muscle protein. This compound is then filtered and excreted through the kidney. Creatinine is measured to determine kidney function. An increased level of creatinine in the blood is an indication that the kidneys are not functioning properly. Kidney failure may result from high creatinine levels. Both dehydration and muscle damage from trauma can raise creatinine levels. Comparing BUN and creatinine helps to locate the reason for kidney dysfunction.



Glucose is the simple sugar produced by the body during digestion. Glucose is the body’s main source of energy and is needed by cells for essential body functions. The body produces two hormones, insulin and glucagon, which regulate the amount of blood glucose in the body. The body stores unused glucose in the liver as glycogen. Insulin increases the amount of glucose available to the body’s cells, and glucagon breaks down stored glycogen into glucose and releases it into the blood stream.
Increase glucose levels in children is due to juvenile diabetes or the body’s attempt to fight off severe infections. Hypoglycemia, or low blood glucose levels, occurs if a child has liver damage or suffers from malnutrition.