We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is Arterial Blood Gas?

By M. DePietro
Updated Mar 03, 2024
Our promise to you
The Health Board is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At The Health Board, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

An arterial blood gas (ABG) is a type of blood test which measures the pH or acidity of the blood, as well as gases, such as oxygen and carbon dioxide. The test is usually performed on people if they have breathing problems, such as emphysema and asthma. It helps doctors evaluate whether the lungs are functioning efficiently

When we inhale we breathe in oxygen, which is transported from the lungs into the bloodstream. During exhalation, carbon dioxide is released and also travels through the blood. Two of the most important factors an ABG measures is the level of both the carbon dioxide and the oxygen level in the blood.

The level of carbon dioxide affects the pH of the blood, which is why it’s considered a critical factor measured by an arterial blood gas. Excess carbon dioxide makes the pH lower and causes a condition know as respiratory acidosis. This can lead to various symptoms, including confusion, headaches, coma and possibly death.

An arterial blood gas also measures oxygen in the blood in two ways. The first measurement is called the partial pressure of oxygen (Pa02). This measures how efficiently the oxygen moved from the lungs into the bloodstream. The second measurement is the oxygen saturation level, which means how much oxygen is in the blood.

Many types of blood draws are obtained from a vein. An arterial blood gas is taken from an artery. It is usually drawn from the radial artery, located in the wrist, or the brachial artery, which can be felt on the inside of the arm at elbow level. Specially trained medical personal can draw an arterial blood gas, including, doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists and lab technicians.

Medical personnel performing an ABG will first do an Allen’s test. This test confirms that the patient has collateral circulation to the hand. The radial artery, along with the ulnar artery, supplies blood to the hand. Although unlikely, if the radial artery is damaged during the blood draw, it’s important to ensure the ulnar artery is supplying blood to the hand.

The next step is swabbing the wrist with an alcohol swab to prevent infection. Because arteries are not seen, the technician will feel for a pulse. Once the pulse is located, the tech will insert the needle and blood will flow into the syringe. After the needle is removed, pressure is applied to the artery for a few minutes to ensure bleeding has stopped. The blood sample is then ran through a special machine which can provide the lab values.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By anon173031 — On May 05, 2011

I had an arterial blood gas test done on my wrist about three or four years ago. Now for the past month in the same place they did the test, I now have a pea size lump. What going on with that? Any info out there?

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.