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Arterial blood gases

Arthur C Theodore, MD
Section Editor
Scott Manaker, MD, PhD
Deputy Editor
Geraldine Finlay, MD


An arterial blood gas (ABG) is a test that measures the oxygen tension (PaO2), carbon dioxide tension (PaCO2), acidity (pH), oxyhemoglobin saturation (SaO2), and bicarbonate (HCO3) concentration in arterial blood. Some blood gas analyzers also measure the methemoglobin, carboxyhemoglobin, and hemoglobin levels. Such information is vital when caring for patients with critical illness, respiratory, or metabolic diseases.

The sites, techniques, and complications of arterial sampling and the interpretation of ABGs are reviewed here. Interpretation of venous blood gases and detailed discussion of acid-base disturbances are discussed separately. (See "Simple and mixed acid-base disorders" and "Venous blood gases and other alternatives to arterial blood gases".)


ABGs are frequently used for the following:

Identification and monitoring of acid-base disturbances

Measurement of the partial pressures of oxygen (PaO2) and carbon dioxide (PaCO2)

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Mar 16, 2017.
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