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An arterial blood gases (ABG) test is a blood test. It measures the acid-base balance (pH) and the levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood. It uses blood drawn from an artery. This is where the levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide can be measured before they enter body tissues.
An arterial blood gases test is done to check for severe breathing and lung problems. The test also checks how well treatments for lung problems are working. And the test can look for changes in how well your lungs, heart, or kidneys are working.
A health professional uses a needle to take a blood sample. It's usually taken from the inside of the wrist. But it can also be taken from an artery in the groin or on the inside of the arm above the elbow crease.
Collecting blood from an artery is more painful than collecting it from a vein. That's because the arteries are deeper and are surrounded by nerves.
Most people feel a brief, sharp pain as the needle to collect the blood sample enters the artery. If you get a local anesthetic, you may feel nothing at all from the needle puncture. Or you may feel a brief sting or pinch as the needle goes through the skin.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to keep a list of the medicines you take. Ask your doctor when you can expect to have your test results.
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Adaptation Date: 11/27/2023
Adapted By: Alberta Health Services
Adaptation Reviewed By: Alberta Health Services
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