Serum Biochemistry Profile on your Pet: What does it tell us?

Serum Biochemistry Profile on your Pet: What does it tell us?
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The serum biochemistry profile refers to the chemical analysis of the liquid portion of the blood (versus the blood cells).  This part of the blood is called the serum.  It provides information about organ function in the body.  Your veterinarian may want to perform a single test, a group of tests to evaluate a single organ or organ system, or a comprehensive profile.  A serum biochemistry profile is one of the most informative laboratory tests in veterinary medicine.

Most profiles include measurements of the following serum components:

• glucose
• proteins (eg, albumin)
• liver enzymes
• bilirubin
• kidney proteins
• pancreatic enzymes
• muscle enzymes
• cholesterol
• calcium
• phosphorus
• electrolytes (eg, sodium, potassium, chloride)

Collectively, this information can be used to assess organ function in the body and to diagnose numerous condition, including kidney and liver disease, diabetes mellitus, and pancreatitis to name a few.

The serum biochemistry profile is also useful in monitoring the effects of various medications on the body.  Many medications can specifically affect certain organs, and the serum biochemistry profile is useful to evaluate organ function when medications must be given long term.  Examples of this include monitoring liver function in animals on medications to control seizures and monitoring kidney function in animals taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

For results of the serum biochemistry profile to be accurate, your pet may need to be fasted before your veterinarian or veterinary technician draws a blood sample.  The blood is placed in a special serum separator tube and centrifuged to extract the serum from the blood cells.  The serum is then analyzed using specialized laboratory equipment.

Q&A

What is a serum biochemistry profile?

This refers to the chemical analysis of the liquid (not cellular) portion of the blood known as the serum.  This analysis is usually run as a series of tests (ie, a profile or screen) that provide information about the function of a wide range of organs in the body.

How is this test performed?

Blood is drawn from a vein in your pet’s arm or neck, placed in a special tube, spun at high speed to separate the serum from the blood cells, then analyzed using specialized laboratory equipment.  You may need to withhold food from your pet prior to the test, so that the serum is clear of excess fat and protein that can cloud results.

What tests are included in this profile?

Most profiles include measurement of sugar, proteins, fats, salts, minerals (eg, calcium), and enzymes involved with organ function.  This information can be used to diagnose numerous condition, including kidney and liver disease, diabetes, and pancreatitis.

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