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Test ID CA Calcium, Total, Serum

Necessary Information

Patient's age is required.

Specimen Required

Collection Container/Tube:

Preferred: Serum gel

Acceptable: Red top

Submission Container/Tube: Plastic vial

Specimen Volume: 0.5 mL

Collection Instructions:

1. If drawing for more than total calcium, send first tube drawn.

2. Serum gel tubes should be centrifuged within 2 hours of collection.

3. Red-top tubes should be centrifuged and the serum aliquoted into a plastic vial within 2 hours of collection.

Useful For

Diagnosis and monitoring of a wide range of disorders including diseases of bone, kidney, parathyroid gland, or gastrointestinal tract

Method Name


Reporting Name

Calcium, Total, S

Specimen Type


Specimen Minimum Volume

0.25 mL

Specimen Stability Information

Specimen Type Temperature Time Special Container
Serum Frozen (preferred) 240 days
  Refrigerated  21 days

Reject Due To

Gross hemolysis Reject
Gross lipemia OK

Clinical Information

The calcium content of an adult is somewhat over 1 kg (about 2% of the body weight). Of this, 99% is present as calcium hydroxyapatite in bones and less than 1% is present in the extra-osseous intracellular space or extracellular space (ECS). The calcium level in the ECS is in dynamic equilibrium with the rapidly exchangeable fraction of bone calcium. In serum, calcium is bound to a considerable extent to proteins (approximately 40%), 10% is in the form of inorganic complexes, and 50% is present as free or ionized calcium.


Calcium ions affect the contractility of the heart and the skeletal musculature, and are essential for the function of the nervous system. In addition, calcium ions play an important role in blood clotting and bone mineralization.


Hypocalcemia is due to the absence or impaired function of the parathyroid glands or impaired vitamin-D synthesis. Chronic renal failure is also frequently associated with hypocalcemia due to decreased vitamin-D synthesis as well as hyperphosphatemia and skeletal resistance to the action of parathyroid hormone (PTH). Characteristic symptoms of hypocalcemia are latent or manifest tetany and osteomalacia.


Hypercalcemia is brought about by increased mobilization of calcium from the skeletal system or increased intestinal absorption. A majority of cases are due to primary hyperparathyroidism (pHPT) or bone metastasis of carcinoma of the breast, prostate, thyroid gland, or lung. Patients who have pHPT and bone disease, renal stones or nephrocalcinosis, or other signs or symptoms are candidates for surgical removal of the parathyroid glands. Severe hypercalcemia may result in cardiac arrhythmia.


Calcium levels may also reflect abnormal vitamin D or protein levels.

Reference Values

<1 year: 8.7-11.0 mg/dL

1-17 years: 9.3-10.6 mg/dL

18-59 years: 8.6-10.0 mg/dL

≥60 years: 8.8-10.2 mg/dL



Long-term therapy must be tailored to the specific disease causing the hypocalcemia. The therapeutic endpoint is to achieve a serum calcium level of 8.0 to 8.5 mg/dL to prevent tetany. For symptomatic hypocalcemia, calcium may be administered intravenously.



The level at which hypercalcemic symptoms occur varies from patient to patient. Symptoms are common when serum calcium levels are above 11.5 mg/dL, although patients may be asymptomatic at this level. Levels above 12.0 mg/dL are considered a critical value. Severe hypercalcemia (>15.0 mg/dL) is a medical emergency.


The interference of intravenously administered gadolinium containing MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) contrast media was tested (Omniscan, Optimark) but no interference was found at the therapeutic concentration. Interferences at higher concentrations were observed.

Clinical Reference

1. Rifai N, Horvath AR, Wittwer CT, eds. Tietz Textbook of Clinical Chemistry and Molecular Diagnostics. 6th ed. Elsevier; 2018.

2. Baldwin TE, Chernow B: Hypocalcemia in the ICU. J Crit Illness. 1987;2:9-16

3. Estey MP, Cohen AH, Colantonio DA, et al: CLSI-based transference of the CALIPER database of pediatric reference intervals from Abbott to Beckman, Ortho, Roche and Siemens Clinical Chemistry Assays: direct validation using reference samples from the CALIPER cohort. Clin Biochem. 2013;46:1197-1219

Method Description

Calcium ions react with 5-nitro-5'-methyl-1,2-bis(o-aminophenoxy)ethane-N,N,N',N'-tetraacetic acid (NM-BAPTA) under alkaline conditions to form a complex. This complex reacts in the second step with EDTA. The change in absorbance is directly proportional to the calcium concentration and is measured photometrically.(Package insert: Roche Calcium Gen.2 reagent. Roche Diagnostics; 07/2012)

Day(s) Performed

Monday through Sunday

Report Available

Same day/1 to 2 days

Test Classification

This test has been cleared, approved, or is exempt by the US Food and Drug Administration and is used per manufacturer's instructions. Performance characteristics were verified by Mayo Clinic in a manner consistent with CLIA requirements.

CPT Code Information


LOINC Code Information

Test ID Test Order Name Order LOINC Value
CA Calcium, Total, S 17861-6


Result ID Test Result Name Result LOINC Value
CA Calcium, Total, S 17861-6


If not ordering electronically, complete, print, and send a Renal Diagnostics Test Request (T830) with the specimen.