Alternate Names : Bicarbonate, Carbon Dioxide, Total Carbon Dioxide, HCO3-, "Bicarb", T CO2, CO2 Content
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
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After the needle is withdrawn, the puncture site is covered for a short time to