Arterial Blood Gases
What is it? Overview Usage Side Effects and Warnings

Arterial Blood Gases Overview

Written by FoundHealth.


This is a blood test to identify levels of certain gases in the blood.

The Arteries
The Arteries
© 2009 Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

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 five 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 Blood will be withdrawn.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 five minutes. If you take a blood-thinning medicine, 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.


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



American Association for Respiratory Care

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute


The Canadian Lung Association

Health Canada


American Association for Respiratory Care website. Available at: .



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