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Bicarbonate test; HCO3-; Carbon dioxide test; TCO2; Total CO2; CO2 test - serum
CO2 is carbon dioxide. This article discusses the laboratory test to measures the amount of carbon dioxide in the liquid part of your blood, called the serum.
In the body, most of the CO2 is in the form of a substance called bicarbonate (HCO3-). Therefore, the CO2 blood test is really a measure of your blood bicarbonate level.
See also: Blood gases
A blood sample is needed. For information on how this is done, see: Venipuncture
Your health care provider may tell you to stop taking any drugs that may affect test results. Corticosteroids and excessive use of antacids can increase bicarbonate levels.
When the needle is inserted to draw blood, you may feel moderate pain, or only a prick or stinging sensation. Afterward, there may be some throbbing.
The CO2 test is most often done as part of an electrolyte or basic metabolic panel. Changes in your CO2 level may suggest that you are losing or retaining fluid, which causes an imbalance in your body's electrolytes.
CO2 levels in the blood are influenced by kidney and lung function. The kidneys are mainly responsible for maintaining the normal bicarbonate levels.
Seifter JL. Acid-base disorders. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 119.
DuBose TD Jr. Disorders of acid-base balance. In: Brenner BM, eds. Brenner and Rector’s The Kidney. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2008:chap 14.
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