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Abg (Arterial Blood Gas) Test

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jan 5, 2023.

What is a ABG test?

An ABG test measures how well your lungs bring oxygen into your blood and get rid of carbon dioxide. An ABG test also measures the acid-base (pH) balance in your blood. The results from the test are used to check if treatments, such as oxygen, are working. The amount of oxygen that you receive depends on your test results. The results also show imbalances in pH that can happen with kidney failure or heart disease. Your healthcare providers will use the results from this test, along with other tests and exams, to treat your conditions.

What can I expect when ABGs are drawn?

The sample of blood is usually drawn from an artery in your wrist. Your healthcare provider will make sure you have good circulation in your wrist before drawing your blood. You will rest your wrist, palm up, on a small pillow or roll of gauze. Your healthcare provider will feel for your pulse, clean the area, then stick a needle into your artery. You may feel more discomfort when the needle is inserted because arteries are deeper than veins.

What should I expect after ABGs are drawn?

Pressure will be firmly put on the site for at least 5 minutes, or until the bleeding stops. A pressure wrap will be placed on your wrist for at least an hour. Your will need to limit your activity as directed.

When should I seek immediate care?

  • The site begins to bleed again.
  • You cannot move your wrist or fingers, and they are cold and pale.
  • You develop a fever, or you develop redness at the site.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • You have burning, numbness, or tingling in your hand.
  • You have pain that is not relieved by treatment.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.