Bicarbonate is an anion that has an important role in acid-base balance.
Plasma bicarbonate may be requested to give an approximate indication of acid-base status however a venous/arterial blood gas should be taken to fully evaluate the acid-base profile.
- All samples must be collected and delivered to the laboratory anaerobically (i.e. no exposure to air and tightly capped)
- Unseparated lithium heparin PST or whole blood samples must be unopened and delivered to the laboratory within 30 min of collection.
- Samples for delivery to the laboratory >30 min after collection should be collected into SST or PST gel tubes and centrifuged to separate within 30 min. These samples should then be delivered to the laboratory, unopened, within 2 hours of collection.
Paediatric Specimen 600 µL heparin microtainer
Chilled (2 - 8 degrees Celsius)
In the absence of a blood gas profile, the plasma bicarbonate can only give an approximation of the acid-base status.
A low plasma bicarbonate may suggest the presence of a metabolic acidosis or (more rarely) metabolic compensation for a chronic respiratory alkalosis. Another common cause of a low bicarbonate is an old specimen which has been uncapped, due to loss of bicarbonate from the specimen (as CO2) to the ambient atmosphere.
A high plasma bicarbonate may be due to a metabolic alkalosis or metabolic compensation for a chronic respiratory acidosis.
Bicarbonate is part of the anion gap calculation.
|0 – 2 yrs||19 – 24 mmol/L|
|>2yrs||2 – 32 mmol/L|
Bicarbonate is measured by enzymatic reaction with malate dehydrogenase and measures a decrease in absorbance. This method uses Beckman Coulter reagents.
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