Anion Gap Blood Test

Serum anion gap

Anion Gap blood test is used to diagnose and monitor some health issues. How Serum anion gap Test is done, & what do the results mean?

The anion gap blood test determines the amount of acid in your blood. Acid levels that are higher or lower than normal can alert your doctor to a health problem and assist them in determining the best treatment for you.


What is an Anion gap blood test?

An anion gap blood test measures the amount of acid in your blood. The results of this test are based on another blood test known as an electrolyte panel. Electrolytes are electrically charged minerals that help control the balance of acids and bases in your body. Some of these minerals are positively charged. Others are negatively charged. The anion gap is the difference (or gap) between negatively and positively charged electrolytes. If your anion gap is too high or too low, it could indicate a problem with your lungs, kidneys, or other organ systems.

What are electrolytes?

Electrolytes are minerals that carry an electric charge when dissolved in a liquid. The following electrolytes are routinely measured in your blood:

  • Chloride.
  • Sodium.
  • Potassium.
  • Bicarbonate or CO2.

These electrolytes collaborate to regulate nerve and muscle functions, in addition to maintaining the acid-base balance (pH balance) and water balance of your blood.

In a comprehensive metabolic blood test panel and electrolyte blood test panel, laboratory scientists measure each of the aforementioned electrolytes individually. Based on these measurements, they calculate the anion gap.

The test is also known as Serum anion gap

The purpose of the Serum anion gap test

The anion gap blood test determines whether your blood has an electrolyte imbalance or too much or too little acid.

  • Acidosis is a disorder during which the blood contains too much acid.
  • If your blood does not contain enough acid, you may have alkalosis.

Why do I need to do the Anion gap blood test?

Acidosis
Electrolyete panel,

In case you experience signs and symptoms of an acid levels imbalance — either acidosis (too acidic) or alkalosis (too alkaline), your healthcare provider may order a blood panel that includes an anion gap test (too basic).

Acidosis symptoms and signs include:

  • Having an erratic heartbeat (arrhythmia).
  • Vomiting.
  • Having difficulty breathing (dyspnea).
  • Feeling easily confused.
  • Tiredness (fatigue).

The following are signs and symptoms of alkalosis:

  • Feeling nauseous.
  • Muscle twitching.
  • Being dizzy.
  • Easily confused.
  • Having a tremor in one’s hand.
  • Vomiting.
  • Numbness or tingling in the feet, hands, or face.
  • Extensive muscle spasms.

Also, the anion gap is frequently used in routine blood tests and health checks, such as:

  • Renal function panel – RFP.
  • Comprehensive metabolic panel – CMP.
  • Electrolyte panel.
  • Basic metabolic panel – BMP.

Read Also: “ALT blood Test


What happens during the anion gap test?

Serum Anion Gap
Anion gap test

The anion gap is not ordered separately. This value is derived from blood electrolyte measurements. An electrolyte panel, basic metabolic panel (BMP), or comprehensive metabolic panel will be ordered (CMP).

During a blood test or blood draw, you can expect to experience the following:

  • You will sit in a chair while a doctor or nurse examines your arms for an easily accessible vein. This vien is often on the inside of the arm, on the opposite side of the elbow.
  • They’ll clean and disinfect the area once they find a vein.
  • Then, they will then use a small needle to draw blood from your vein.
  • After the needle is inserted, they will collect a small amount of blood in a test tube.
  • After collecting a sufficient amount of blood, they will remove the needle and apply a cotton ball to the wound to stop the bleeding, if any.
  • Then they will apply a bandage to the wound.
The test is usually completed in less than five minutes.

How should I prepare for the serum anion gap test?

An anion gap blood test requires no special preparation. In case you do extra blood tests, you may be required to fast (without food or drink) for several hours prior to the test. In case there are any special preparations for this test, your practitioner will let you know.


What risks can an anion gap blood test imply?

Blood tests are a popular and necessary procedure of medical testing. Blood tests are extremely a low-risk procedure. There may be some tenderness or a bruise at the site of the blood draw, but this will not last for a long time.


Anion gap blood test results

Electrolyte Panel
Electrolyte Panel, Anion gap normal range

Your lab test results can be influenced by a variety of factors. These include the method that each lab employs to conduct the test. Even in case, your test results are not within the normal range, you might not have a health issue. Speak with your practitioner to find out what do the results mean for you.

The outcomes are given in milliequivalents per liter (mEq/L). The anion gap normal range is 3 to 10 mEq/L, however, this varies from lab to lab.

High Anion gap test result

You may have acidosis if your blood test results show a high anion gap. This suggests that you could have a higher-than-normal range of acid in your blood (a lower-than-normal blood pH).

Acidosis may be a symptom of one or more of the following:

  • Dehydration.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Excessive physical activity.

Acidosis can also be a sign of more serious health issues, such as:

  • Diabetes

Acidosis could mean you have undiagnosed diabetes (more commonly Type 1 diabetes). When the pancreas stops producing enough insulin hormone to allow blood sugar into your cells for energy use, your blood can become acidic. Diabetic ketoacidosis is the medical term for this condition.

  • Kidney disease

Healthy kidneys remove acid from your body via pee and maintain the proper level of bicarbonate (an electrolyte) in your blood. However, in case you have kidney disease, your kidneys are unable to get rid of enough amount of acid, which can result in metabolic acidosis.

  • Diabetic ketoacidosis – DKA

In case you are a diabetes patient and your body does not receive enough synthetic insulin, you may suffer from diabetic ketoacidosis, a potentially fatal medical situation.

  • Salicylate toxicity (poisoning with salicylates)

Salicylates are a type of medication that can be found in both over-the-counter and prescription medications. One of the most common types of salicylate is aspirin. Intentional or unintentional ingestion of salicylates can result in life-threatening salicylate poisoning.

Low Anion gap test result

A low anion gap blood test result is unusual. As a result, your practitioner will most probably redo the test to ensure that the results are accurate or conduct additional testing.

If your test results show a low anion gap in your blood, it could indicate that you have a lower-than-normal albumin level (hypoalbuminemia). Albumin is a protein found in your blood that is necessary for life. Low albumin levels can mean you are suffering from one of the following conditions:

  • Kidney problems.
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Liver issues.
  • Cancers of specific types.
Remember low anion gap results are unusual. In case you are in a need of more information about your anion gap test results, talk to your doctor.

Are there any other tests related to the Serum anion gap test?

Since a lot of conditions may affect the acid-base chemistry of your blood, your healthcare practitioner may also order additional blood tests. Among the possible tests are:

  • Blood or urine pH levels.
  • Carbon dioxide and other dissolved gases in the blood.
  • Lactate, glucose, and ketones are all examples of metabolites.
  • Creatinine.
  •  Blood urea nitrogen – BUN.

If you believe you may have consumed poison, such as wood alcohol, salicylate (found in aspirin), or ethylene glycol (found in antifreeze), your provider may test your blood for it.

In case your doctor suspects you are suffering from ketoacidosis, he might recmmend a urine dipstick test for ketone compounds. Ketoacidosis is a serious medical condition.

What factors could influence my test results?

Dehydration and water retaining in your body can both have an impact on anion gap results. Antibiotics, such as penicillin, can also impact your serum anion gap results.


When should I be concerned about my results?

If the results of your blood tests show that you have a high or low anion gap, this does not necessarily indicate that you have a medical condition. A lot of factors may influence your electrolyte levels, which in turn influences your anion gap results. Also, there might have been a mistake with transporting the collection, or during the processing of the blood tests.

Many factors, such as your medical history and medications, are considered by your healthcare provider when interpreting your blood test results. In case your anion gap results are not normal, your practitioner may ask for additional tests to make a diagnosis.


When should I expect to receive the results?

In case you are suffering from acute acidosis symptoms, such as shortness of breath and vomiting, your health care practitioner will take a blood sample as soon as possible for blood tests. Your practitioner will most probably receive the test results in a matter of hours.

If your anion gap test is part of a routine check-up test, like a basic metabolic panel, you could receive the results after one to two working days.


In case you have any questions concerning your Anion gap test results, make sure to ask your practitioner.

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