Bicarbonate is any salt which happens to have the HCO3− anion. This negatively charged electrolyte is not only excreted, but also reabsorbed by one's kidneys. Bicarbonate plasma, also called blood bicarbonate, essentially means bicarbonate of the blood plasma. Now this measure is a significant parameter when it comes to acid-base balance as is measured in the case of blood gas analysis. The test here is referred to as Bicarbonate test although it could be termed as Bicarb or Total CO2 when referring to it.
Now this test effectively looks at how much carbon dioxide you have present in your blood, chiefly in the bicarbonate form (that is, HCO3-). However, these days, instead of this total CO2 test, laboratories are leaning towards direct measurement of the same. The electrolyte itself is needed by our bodies when it comes to maintaining our vital acid-base balance. This is commonly called one's pH balance. Another important function would be to maintain electrical neutrality along with chloride and sodium in addition to potassium, but this is at the cellular level.
Measurement of the same is done because the plasma bicarbonate level along with other tests will give us an idea of the electrolyte imbalance, acidosis or possibly alkalosis when it comes due to a disease process or some kind of disorder. A thing to note about this test is that the Total CO2 test typically goes along with a number of others, forming an electrolyte panel. This means that chloride and potassium plus sodium are tested.
For such as bicarbonate plasma test, usually no prior activities or preparation is deemed necessary. Ask your doctor if he or she requires you to prepare in any manner for testing bicarbonate in plasma.
A blood sample is drawn for the bicarbonate plasma test in the regular manner, which means a needle is used in order to get the necessary blood sample for the test from a vein located in the test subject's arm. Normal plasma bicarbonate levels mean that the acid-base balance maintenance is fine. On the other hand, low plasma bicarbonate levels imply that there is some kind of electrolyte balance problem. This could also mean that maintenance of acid-base balance is irregular. Some of the possible indications of low amounts of bicarbonate which show up in the test results are kidney disease and chronic diarrhea.