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A chemistry screen involves a blood test that detects various substances in the blood stream. From a chemistry screen, an individual can find out if a certain treatment is working or if health issues are present.
Chemistry screens differ in how many substances are being analyzed at one time. The doctor will choose which test is necessary.
- The chem-20, SMA-20, and SMAC-20 examine 20 different items in the blood stream. These tests are the most comprehensive.
- The SMA-6, SMA-7, and SMA-12 analyze fewer items.
Some of the substances being detected are:
- Uric Acid
- Lactate Dehydrogenase
- Gamma-Glutamyl Transferase
- Aspartate Aminotransferase
- Alkaline Phosphatase
Examples of Chemistry Panels
Depending on the doctor, a variety of different panels can be ordered. Most of these tests can be adapted to fit the needs of the doctor. Some of the more common panels are:
- Basic Metabolic Panel (BMP) – includes eight tests that provide information about the present status of kidneys and the respiratory system.
- Comprehensive Metabolic Panel (CMP) – involves 14 tests and gives similar information as the BMP, but also includes the condition of the liver and blood proteins.
- Electrolyte Panel – helps identify an issue with the electrolyte balance in the body.
- Lipid Profile – provides data about an individual’s chance of having cardiovascular disease.
- Liver Panel (Hepatic Function Panel) – used to provide information about liver inflammation and liver damage or illness.
- Renal Panel (Kidney Function Panel) – has a variety of tests to estimate kidney function.
- Thyroid Function Panel – detects issues with the thyroid gland’s function.
Why Complete a Chemistry Screen?
Each panel is used to diagnose different issues in the body. A doctor may order a chemistry panel as part of a yearly examination. The screen can be used to aid in changes in the patient’s diet or lifestyle as well. Sometimes, a doctor orders a chemistry screen to find the root of a particular symptom. Chemistry screens can be used to monitor a health condition and to evaluate how the treatment is working. It is also common for a doctor to order chemistry screenings before a patient has surgery.
Before the Test
The night before the test, a patient should refrain from drinking alcohol and eating fatty foods. The doctor may also recommend fasting before the test, which would involve eating and drinking nothing for nine to 12 hours before the test. Depending on which type of chemistry screen is needed, the patient may be allowed to take his or her daily medicine the morning of the test.
The typical values of the substances being tested can vary based upon the criteria included in the screen. Most results will be available in a day or two. If there are any abnormalities, the doctor and patient will decide upon the next course of action.