How to Calculate Serum Osmolarity

Updated February 21, 2017

Serum osmolarity is a measure of the concentration of materials in the blood against the overall mass of the blood being measured. Substances such as sodium, chloride, potassium, other ions, and urea are found in varying quantities in the blood. The kidneys filter the blood and keep the levels of these substances within a small variance. Changes in this variance of osmolarity signify one of many problems from kidney failure to diabetes. The normal range of serum osmolarity is between 285-295 mOsm/L (milliosmoles per litre).

Multiply the amount of sodium within the specimen by two.

Divide the amount of glucose by 18.

Divide the amount of blood urea nitrogen by 2.8.

Add all three products together. This is the serum osmolarity of the specific blood sample per litre.

Multiply the resulting sum by 0.995. This converts the serum osmolality to serum osmolarity. Osmolality is a measure of serum osmotic concentration in terms of mass, while osmolarity is a measure of serum osmotic concentration per volume. This final calculation multiplies the osmolality by the mass density of blood times the result of the density of blood plasma (1.025 g/ml) minus the anhydrous solute concentration (0.03g/ml) to produce osmolarity.

Things You'll Need

  • Blood panel showing the relative levels of sodium, glucose, blood urea nitrogen
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About the Author

Gabriel Dockery began writing in 2009, with his work published on various websites. He is working toward a Bachelor of Science in neuroscience in a transfer program between Ivy Tech College and Indiana State University.