Clinics and Departments

Laboratory Services

Lab Dept:


Test Name:


General Information

Lab Order Codes:



Bicarbonate, blood; Bicarb

CPT Codes:

82374 – Carbon dioxide, bicarbonate

Test Includes:

HCO3 concentration as a calculated value reported in mEq/L.


Test Indications:

Useful for evaluation of acid-base balance and the body's ability to control pH. Bicarbonate ion is the principle transport form for CO2.

Lab Testing Sections:


Phone Numbers:

MIN Lab: 612-813-6280

STP Lab: 651-220-6550

Test Availability:

Daily, 24 hours

Turnaround Time:

1 hour

Special Instructions:

Arterial punctures, arterial line and indwelling arterial catheter samples must be obtained by physicians or qualified staff from radial, brachial, femoral arteries or catheter sites.


Specimen Type:

Whole blood


Preferred: Sims Portex® syringe (PB151) or Smooth-E syringe (956-463)

Draw Volume:

0.4 mL (Minimum: 0.2 mL) blood

Processed Volume:

0.2 mL blood


Arterial punctures must be performed by qualified personnel. Once the puncture has been performed or the arterial line specimen drawn, immediately remove all air from the syringe. Remove the needle, cap tightly and gently mix. Forward the specimen promptly at ambient temperature.

Note on arterial line draws: The IV solution must be removed from the system prior to collection to prevent contamination.

Special Processing:

Lab Staff: Deliver the specimen to the blood gas testing station. Testing must be completed within one hour of collection or the sample should be immersed in an ice bath as soon as possible.

Patient Preparation:

Based on collection type

Sample Rejection:

Mislabeled or unlabeled specimens, samples containing air, non-heparinized samples, collection times exceeding one hour and clotted samples


Reference Range:

22 – 27 mEq/L

Critical Values:

<10 and >40 mEq/L




HCO3 by calculation


Tietz, Norbert (1995) Clinical Guide to Laboratory Tests, 3rd edition, WB Saunders Co, pp 1081-1084

NCCLS (1999) Procedures for the Collection of Arterial Blood Specimens, Third Edition, NCCLS document, HII-A3

ABL 800 Flex Operator’s Manual, Publication 200802, Edition H, Code Number 990-315, 2008 Radiometer Medical ApS


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