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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Tests and Exams > CO2


Alternate Names : Bicarbonate, Carbon Dioxide, Total Carbon Dioxide, HCO3-, "Bicarb", T CO2, CO2 Content

Overview & Description | Preparation & Expectations | Results and Values

This test is used to determine the amount of bicarbonate, called HCO3, in the blood. The test actually measures the blood level of carbon dioxide, called CO2. During laboratory testing, HCO3 is converted to CO2. HCO3 is important in neutralizing acids. Its concentration in the blood gives an idea of how well the kidneys and lungs can control acid-base balance.

Who is a candidate for the test?

This test is ordered to help diagnose a wide variety of disorders in the body's basic functioning. This includes problems with the kidney, adrenal gland, or breathing systems. It is also helpful in diagnosing some types of poisonings.

How is the test performed?

A sample of blood is taken in order to measure the CO2 level. The blood is usually drawn from a vein in the forearm or the hand. First, the skin over the vein is cleaned with an antiseptic. Next, a rubber tube called a tourniquet is tied around the upper arm. This enlarges the veins in the lower arm by restricting blood flow through them. A very thin needle is gently inserted into a vein, and the tourniquet is removed. Blood flows from the vein through the needle into a syringe or vial. The sample is sent to the lab to be analyzed. After the needle is withdrawn, the puncture site is covered for a short time to prevent bleeding.


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CO2: Preparation & Expectations

Author: David T. Moran, MD
Reviewer: Melinda Murray Ratini, DO
Date Reviewed: 06/04/02

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