An arterial blood gas test or ABG reveals the current state of respiration and metabolism. Time-critical processing by a lab or testing equipment yields values that show how well the patient's respiratory system is exchanging oxygen and carbon dioxide. In patients with respiratory limitations such as COPD or asthma, the values will help determine the progression of the condition and amount of oxygen supplementation needed. Other values in the ABG test show the state of the metabolism, which uses oxygen and carbon dioxide for the chemical processing of energy.
Usually, doctors draw blood for arterial blood gas tests from the radial artery in the wrist which, in hospitalized patients, may already have an arterial line in place. The medical professional may also draw blood from the femoral artery in the groin or the brachial artery in the arm. In some cases, venous blood can be used, though this is not optimal. Once blood is extracted, technicians must run the tests within ten minutes for best results.
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