Physician conducting lab test to highlight basic vs. comprehensive metabolic panel

What's the Difference: Basic vs. Comprehensive Metabolic Panel

Medically reviewed on June 27, 2022 by Jordan Stachel, M.S., RDN, CPT. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.


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Your blood can provide a great deal of insight into your overall health because it contains so many components from the body. Certain tests and examinations can help to unlock the secrets of your blood, which can help to check for certain conditions. Two common blood tests are the basic metabolic panel and the comprehensive metabolic panel. While the two are similar and have some overlap, it’s worth understanding their differences. Learn more about these two tests below.

What Is a Basic Metabolic Panel?

A basic metabolic panel is a blood test that can provide information about your metabolism and certain chemical balances in the body. Metabolism is the process wherein the body breaks down food into its base components and turns it into usable energy [1]. (Note that you can take an at-home metabolism test to check three hormones that can influence your metabolism and may help you understand unexpected changes in weight and energy.)

The purpose of the basic metabolic panel is to make sure that several markers are within a normal range. This panel tests for eight different substances in the blood, including:

  • Glucose
  • Calcium
  • Electrolytes (sodium, carbon dioxide, potassium, and chloride)
  • Creatinine and blood urea nitrogen [1]

What Is a Comprehensive Metabolic Panel?

What is a comprehensive metabolic panel, exactly? A CMP is like a basic metabolic panel, but it measures more substances in the blood. A comprehensive metabolic panel measures 14 substances. What sets this test apart from a basic metabolic panel is the addition of these substances:

  • Albumin
  • Total protein (a measure of albumin and globulins)
  • Liver enzymes (alkaline phosphatase, aspartate aminotransferase, alanine transaminase)
  • Bilirubin [2]

Why would you need these tests?

Your healthcare provider may order either of these tests as a part of a regular physical examination. Your healthcare provider may ask for a CMP test if they believe that you are at risk of liver disease or kidney failure [2]. You may need a basic metabolic panel if you are being treated in an emergency room or require monitoring for high blood pressure, kidney disease, or certain other chronic conditions [1].

A basic metabolic panel can typically measure for:

  • Basic metabolic function
  • Kidney health
  • Electrolyte imbalances
  • pH imbalances [1]

The CMP test can provide insight into all those health factors. However, a CMP offers further insight into liver health. This can help to identify potential diseases or damage to the liver, along with the health of other organs. The CMP also provides a detailed look at protein levels via the total protein test, which can provide further insight into your health [2].

How to prepare for these tests

Both basic and comprehensive metabolic panels are conducted as blood tests. Once blood is drawn it is sent to a lab for testing. The preparation for these tests includes fasting at least eight hours prior to the test. Food and drink can cause fluctuations in certain components in the blood—like glucose, calcium, and protein—which would lead to inaccurate results.

What Is a Basic Metabolic Panel?

What Is a Comprehensive Metabolic Panel?

How to Check Liver Health: Key Points to Know

Why Understanding Your Metabolism Is A Key To Better Health


References

1. Basic Metabolic Panel (BMP). Medline Plus. URL. Accessed June 27, 2022.

2. Comprehensive Metabolic Panel (CMP). Medline Plus. URL. Accessed June 27, 2022.

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