Arterial Blood gasesAsthma medical testsIntubationOther medical testsRespiratory Therapy

That’s a lot of ABGs

Can you believe I’ve had 118 arterial blood gases (ABG’s) drawn in just a 3 year period??

Nothing like being a human pin-cushion….eh?

Click the image to see the result of every ABG Ive had done during the last 3 years
( for you medical people, nope..I’m not a CO2 retainer)

Without getting too medical on you , an arterial blood gas sample (ABG), is simply a type of blood test that is done when it’s necessary to measure the amount of oxygen ( PO2) , carbon dioxide ( PCO2) and Ph ( the acidity ) and a few other things in the blood collected from an artery. During a severe asthma exacerbation , the actual struggle to breath ( what they call “work of breathing”), can cause the CO2 in the blood to increase to dangerous levels. If the attack becomes severe enough, the body( lungs) can’t eliminate the CO2 fast enough and the blood then becomes acidic ( low Ph) … not a good thing) The point where the body is no able longer compensate effectively, is called “Respiratory Failure”. Trust me..you don’t want to be in respiratory failure.

Of course that 118 number doesn’t represent the actual number of punctures into my radial artery. If that were the case , my wrist would have fallen off by now. Some of those samples actually came from arterial catheters that were placed in my artery during different hospitalizations. I estimate that about 50 of the 118 ABG samples sent to the lab, were taken from an art-line. That still leaves a whopping 68 individual punctures in my poor wrists!

Unlike regular blood draws from a vein, ABG blood samples are not only harder to get (you can’t really see an artery like you can a vein), but they can be quite painful as well. So, if the doctors think they’re gonna to need to get frequent and/or multiple arterial blood samples, they will usually place an arterial catheter directly into the artery and then draw the sample from that. They can also attach a transducer to that catheter which allows them to monitor your blood pressure directly from the source! Pretty cool actually ! In total, I think I’ve had about 10 arterial lines inserted in just the past 5 years. In any case…a 118 blood gas samples….is a lot of blood gas samples! It might even be a record for an asthmatic.

Oh..and at $250 a crack, that’s about 25 grand just for this single blood test. See……I told you I was expensive.

my wrist after a half dozen failed art-line attempts

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2 thoughts on “That’s a lot of ABGs

  1. Steve, I only ever had them take arterial gases from me once, before a wisdom tooth surgery. They failed to hit the artery and I was so freaked out they decided not to do full general anesthesia, only light anesthesia, since they didn’t have blood gas info.

    Anyway, thanks for putting the CBS video on your blog. It is so great – and now I know the address of your new blog! (I lost you for awhile.) Look s like you’ve been busy.

  2. Wow! That's so much and hurts. I just had my ABG drawn only 68 times. I hope you re doing well. And, I'm also asthmatic (severe asthma) since I was 4 years old.

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