Arterial Blood Gases
Alternate Names : ABG, Arterial Blood GAS
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Arterial blood gases, called ABGs, are a series of blood
measurements that are ordered as a single test. This test is
used mainly to check lung function and acid levels in the body.
Who is a candidate for the test?
Any time there is a question about breathing problems,
oxygen and carbon dioxide exchange, or acid levels in the body, this test
can be helpful. Examples include:
people with shortness of breath
due to lung problems
people with rapid breathing due to heart or blood conditions
people who are unconscious
people who are suspected of having too much or too little acid in the
body, such as someone with kidney failure
people on artificial breathing machines called
ABGs are done regularly to assure that the machines are set correctly.
How is the test performed?
A blood sample from an artery is needed to do this test.
In most cases, an artery on the palm side of the wrist is used to get the
blood. Sometimes, an artery in the groin or other area may be used.
The skin over the artery is cleaned first. Next, a small needle is inserted
through the skin and into the artery. The needle is usually hooked up to
a syringe. Blood flows into the syringe once the needle is put into the
artery. Pressure is applied over the area after the blood is collected to
prevent bleeding. The blood is then sent to the lab for analysis.