CO2 is carbon dioxide. This article discusses the laboratory test to measure the amount of carbon dioxide in the liquid part of your blood, called the serum.
In the body, most of the CO2 is in the form of a substance called bicarbonate (HCO3-). Therefore, the CO2 blood test is really a measure of your blood bicarbonate level.
A blood sample is needed. Most of the time blood is drawn from a vein located on the inside of the elbow or the back of the hand.
Many medicines can interfere with blood test results.
You may feel slight pain or a sting when the needle is inserted. You may also feel some throbbing at the site after the blood is drawn.
The CO2 test is most often done as part of an electrolyte or basic metabolic panel. Changes in your CO2 level may suggest that you are losing or retaining fluid. This may cause an imbalance in your body's electrolytes.
CO2 levels in the blood are affected by kidney and lung function. The kidneys help maintain the normal bicarbonate levels.
The normal range is 23 to 29 milliequivalents per liter (mEq/L) or 23 to 29 millimoles per liter (mmol/L).
Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Talk to your provider about the meaning of your specific test results.
The example above shows the common measurement range of results for these tests. Some laboratories use different measurements or may test different specimens.
Abnormal levels may be due to the following problems.
Delirium may also alter bicarbonate levels.
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.