Health Library

Definition

Arterial blood gas is a test to look for gases in the blood.

The Arteries

nucleus image

Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Reasons for Test

This test determines the amount of oxygen and carbon dioxide dissolved in the blood, as well as the acid/base status. Oxygen and carbon dioxide levels are indicators of lung function. The acid/base status provides information on how well the lungs and kidneys are functioning. It can also give information as to whether there is a problem in the body, like an infection, that is throwing off the acid/base balance in the body.

If you are undergoing oxygen therapy , this test can help to see if the therapy is effective.

Possible Complications

Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:

  • Bleeding
  • Bruising
  • Injury to the artery
What to Expect
Prior to Test

If the blood is going to be taken from an artery in the arm, an Allen test will be done. This test will be used to evaluate blood circulation. During the Allen test, the technician will press the radial and ulnar arteries in the wrist. This will cause your palm to turn white. When the arteries are released, the skin will turn pink and flushed. If your skin does not flush within 5 seconds, this will indicate that you have decreased blood flow to your palm. Another puncture site will need to be chosen.

Description of Test

The puncture site will be swabbed clean. The needle will then be inserted into the selected artery. Blood will be withdrawn. The needle will be removed.

After Test

The technician will put pressure on the puncture site for about 5 minutes. If you take a blood-thinners, it may take longer for the bleeding to stop. Once the bleeding has stopped, a bandage will be placed on the site. You will leave the bandage in place for 30-60 minutes. You will need to keep the site clean.

How Long Will It Take?

A few minutes

Will It Hurt?

It may hurt slightly when the needle is inserted.

Results

Based on the test results, your doctor can assess your lung and kidney function.

Call Your Doctor

After the test, call your doctor if any of the following occurs:

  • Signs of infection, including fever and chills
  • Bleeding or severe bruising
  • Weakness, tingling, or numbness of an extremity

If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.

RESOURCES:

American Association for Respiratory Care
http://www.aarc.org

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Health Canada
http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca

The Lung Association
http://www.lung.ca

References:

Arterial blood gases. Bon Secours St. Francis Health System website. Available at: http://www.stfrancishealth.org/health-library.html?documentID=hw2343. Accessed December 31, 2014.

Blood gases. American Association for Clinical Chemistry Lab Tests Online website. Available at: http://labtestsonline.org/understanding/analytes/blood-gases/tab/glance. Updated December 29, 2014. Accessed December 31, 2014.



Last reviewed December 2014 by Michael J. Fucci, DO

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

Baptist Flame

Baptist Health Systems

1-800-948-6262

Find A Doctor

Services

Locations

Baptist Medical Clinic

Patients & Visitors

Learn

Contact Us

Physician Tools

Careers at Baptist

Employee Links

Online Services

At Baptist Health Systems

At Baptist Medical Center

close ×