Capital Pulmonary Internists, P.C.
Arterial Blood Gas
 
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Definition:
An arterial blood gas (ABG) test measures the acidity (ph) and the levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood from an artery. This test is used to check how well your lungs are able to move oxygen into the blood and remove carbon dioxide from the blood.As blood passes through your lungs, oxygen moves into the blood while carbon dioxide moves out of the blood into the lungs. An ABG test uses blood drawn from an artery, where the oxygen and carbon dioxide levels can be measured before they enter body tissues.

What an Arterial Blood Gas Measures:

  • Partial pressure of oxygen (PaO2). This measures the pressure of oxygen dissolved in the blood and how well oxygen is able to move from the airspace of the lungs into the blood.  
  • Partial pressure of carbon dioxide (PaCO2). This measures how much carbon dioxide is dissolved in the blood and how well carbon dioxide is able to move out of the body. 
  • pH. The pH measures hydrogen ions (H+) in blood. The pH of blood is usually between 7.35 and 7.45. A pH of less than 7.0 is called acid and a pH greater than 7.0 is called basic (alkaline). So blood is slightly basic.
  • Bicarbonate (HCO3). Bicarbonate is a chemical (buffer) that keeps the pH of blood from becoming too acidic or too basic.
  • Oxygen content (O2CT) and oxygen saturation (O2Sat) values. O2 content measures the amount of oxygen in the blood. Oxygen saturation measures how much of the hemoglobin in the red blood cells is carrying oxygen (O2).

Why the test is ordered:

  • Check for severe breathing problems and lung diseases, such as asthma, cystic fibrosis, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
  • See how well treatment for lung diseases is working.
  • Find out if you need extra oxygen or help with breathing (mechanical ventilation).
  •  Find out if you are receiving the right amount of oxygen when you are using oxygen in the hospital.
  • Measure the acid-base level in the blood of people who have heart failure, kidney failure,   uncontrolled diabetis, sleep disorders, severe infections, or after a drug overdose.

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