Arterial Blood Gas Interpretation

Understanding The Reasons And Methods

By: - Medicine - September 21, 2011
arterial blood gas interpretation understanding the reasons and methods

When a person goes to the hospital, it is not uncommon for doctors to have staff perform an arterial blood gas interpretation, especially if the patient has a major issue with respiratory problems or some other form of major illness.  A test is given, called the ABG or arterial blood gas test, which allows doctors to analyse the arterial blood gases to properly care for the patient.

An arterial blood gas interpretation is quite often performed in patients who are cared for in ICUS or intensive care units.  The arterial blood gases can be tested by taking blood samples from any of the major arteries by pushing a needle into the artery and taking a quick sample.  Usually, the most often used artery for this test is the radial one which is found in your wrist, but there are other arteries that can be used instead if need be.  These include the one in the groin, or the femoral artery, or alternatively through any other artery via a special type of catheter.  Measurements include those for carbon dioxide levels, oxygen tension within the arteries, pH acidity and oxyhemoglobin saturation within the arteries, methemoglobin, carboxyhemoglobin, electrolytes and bicarbonate levels.  Used mainly for pulmonology, the test determines gas levels in relation to the exchange of blood gases in regards to the function of the lungs.  However, sometimes doctors have to use medical calculators, as well as experience and nomograms to ensure that their interpretations are correct when it comes to assessing blood gases in relation to more complex and hard to read measurements.  However, on rare occasions, especially with childhood emergencies, the brachial artery may be used to get quick results.  Initially a first sample is taken and the gas bubbles are eliminated visibly to avoid inaccuracies in the results.  The sample is then run through a special analyzer or kept chilled in ice until the sample can be tested.

Arterial blood gas interpretation is a specialized procedure that may quite often be done for emergency purposes or for those with serious conditions or lung issues.  In the case of children, the fast approach through the brachial artery may be needed in emergency situations.

Photo: blood gases analyzer – copyright 2009, Dave – reproduced under Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike License 3.0 Unported,

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