Help Interpreting Lab Results

CBC- Complete Blood Count.  Includes measures of: Red blood cells, hemoglobin and hematocrit (which together help the doctor assess the possibility of anemia); White blood cells (which fight infection); and platelets (important in the clotting process). 

CMP - Comprehensive Metabolic Panel. As the name implies, addresses many results, including:

Kidney function- The BUN and Creatinine- the lower the numbers, the better the kidney function.

Electrolytes - Calcium, Sodium, Potassium, Chloride, and CO2 levels.  Levels of electrolytes in your body can become too low or too high. That can happen when the amount of watervin your body changes, causing dehydration or overhydration. Causes include some medicines, vomiting, diarrhea, sweating or kidney problems. Problems most often occur with levels of sodium, potassium or calcium

Protein levels - the Total Protein, Albumin, and Globulin levels. These are effected by nutritional intake and other factors.

Bilirubin - a product of hemoglobin metabolism cleared from the body by the liver.  When it is too high, the patient is jaundices.

Liver Function - The ALT and AST-liver enzymes. Too high means the liver is inflamed, too low is not a concern.

BMP - Basic Metabolic Panel- covers electrolytes and Kidney function (see above).

URINALYSIS examination of the urine yielding clues about infection, blood in the urine, glucose (sugar) in the urine, and more.

LIPID PANEL - a cholesterol profile, looking at Total cholesterol, and the Good (HDL), Bad (LDL), the Ugly (VLDL) and triglycerides. ATP III guidelines may be referenced, as they are the current national standard for treatment.

TSH, T4, Free T4, T3, and Free T3 - thyroid function tests.  Not straight forward to interpret.  If the TSH is high, the patient is low in thyroid (and may need to receive thyroid medication or a higher does if already being treated).  If the TSH is low, the patient is high in thyroid hormone (and could be receiving or making too much thyroid hormone).

INR - the International Normalized Ratio, has replaced the older pro-thrombin time (PT), and measures the extrinsic pathway of clotting in the body.  If the liver has normal synthetic function, the value will be normal.  The most common reason for it to be elevated is treatment with Coumadin /warfarin. Desirable INR levels in anti-coagulated patients depend on the reason the patient is anti-coaglulated.

PSA - The Prostatic Specific Antigen.  An antigen (protein the immune system can recognize) unique to the prostate gland, which can be elevated for many reasons, including: infection, trauma, and cancer.  Used in screening, but fraught with problems if misinterpreted.

25-OH VITAMIN D LEVEL - a building block created by the body in the production of Vitamin D, and used to estimate total body Vitamin D levels. Low levels are a problem for many reasons, but particularly for healthy bones.

URIC ACID LEVEL - if elevated, a concern for gout/ gouty arthritis. Desirable levels for treated patients are always below 6.0, preferably below 5.0.

MICROALBUMIN -  a tiny portion of protein, which can leak into the urine through the kidney.  If elevated, a concern for kidney health, especially in Diabetes

TESTOSTERONE LEVEL - the male hormone level.  Desirable levels can differ by age.