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Laboratory Medicine

Test Directory / Bicarbonate


Brown clotted serum, gel barrier or lithium heparin

Common AbbreviationsSBIC, Bicarb, HCO3-
Tube typeBrown clotted serum, gel barrier or lithium heparin
Clinical IndicationInvestigation and monitoring of acid-base status, for example in patients with renal failure, lung diseases, diabetic ketoacidosis and hyper or hypokalaemia. Raised serum bicarbonate levels may be seen in compensated respiratory acidosis and metabolic alkalosis. Low serum levels may be seen in compensated respiratory alkalosis and metabolic acidosis. Additional laboratory determinations will permit differentiation between metabolic and respiratory conditions.
Specimen TypeBlood
Sample typeSerum
Minimum Volume0.5mL If requesting more than 10 tests please send an additional brown clotted serum sample.
Special PrecautionsSample tubes should be as full as possible and fully sealed to minimise exposure to gasses in air
StabilitySeveral hours at 2-8°C
Turnaround TimeUrgent: 2 hours Inpatient: 4 hours Outpatient/ GP: 24 hours
LaboratoryYork and Scarborough
Reference Interval22-29 mmol/L (Recommended by Pathology Harmonisation Reference Group)
LimitationsHaemolysis or prolonged exposure to air may falsely increase bicarbonate values. Results obtained using the laboratory method may be slightly higher than those measured using blood gas analysers, due to cross reactivity with other carbon compounds.
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