CO2 blood test
Toggle: English / Spanish
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.
Bicarbonate test; HCO3-; Carbon dioxide test; TCO2; Total CO2; CO2 test - serum
How the Test is Performed
A blood sample is needed. Most of the time blood is drawn from a vein located on the inside of the elbow or the back of the hand.
How to Prepare for the Test
Many medicines can interfere with blood test results.
- Your health care provider will tell you if you need to stop taking any medicines before you have this test.
- DO NOT stop or change your medicines without talking to your provider first.
How the Test will Feel
You may feel slight pain or a sting when the needle is inserted. You may also feel some throbbing at the site after the blood is drawn.
Why the Test is Performed
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. This may cause an imbalance in your body's electrolytes.
CO2 levels in the blood are affected by kidney and lung function. The kidneys help maintain the normal bicarbonate levels.
The normal range is 23 to 29 mEq/L (milliequivalents per liter).
Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Talk to your doctor about the meaning of your specific test results.
The example above shows the common measurement range of results for these tests. Some laboratories use different measurements or may test different specimens.
What Abnormal Results Mean
Abnormal levels may be due to the following problems:
The following conditions may also alter bicarbonate levels:
Seifter JL. Acid-base disorders. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 118.
- Last reviewed on 4/30/2015
- Laura J. Martin, MD, MPH, ABIM Board Certified in Internal Medicine and Hospice and Palliative Medicine, Atlanta, GA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- 2013 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.