Interpretation of Arterial Blood Gases

By Ashley | February 26, 2010

Our blood has chemical components which help it carry oxygen and other gases through the body. Blood gases are calculated from time to time in order to understand the acidity or alkalinity contents of the blood and the oxygenation of the blood.

Usually, if there is any kind of imbalance, the body tries to restore the normal balance by itself. However, this is not always possible; therefore, if a person is suffering from an acute or a chronic problem, medical intervention almost always becomes necessary.

In case the body is not able to normalize the blood gas, the patient may be supplied with pure oxygen. In an extreme case, the doctor may order you to be placed on a respirator for additional oxygen support. During the time that you are on oxygen therapy, the doctor continues to monitor your blood gas in order to observe the efficacy of the treatment.

The test is typically ordered if you experience the symptoms of blood pH imbalance. It may also be ordered if the person is experiencing symptoms of carbon dioxide poisoning or an imbalance between oxygen and carbon dioxide. The tests may not be able to identify the exact cause of the problem, but it is possible to use these tests to determine whether the problem is respiratory or metabolic in nature.

Arterial blood gases are specifically calculated when it is known that you have a respiratory problem. Metabolic disorders and kidney disease may also cause an imbalance in the oxygen and carbon dioxide gases. If your doctor knows that you suffer from any of these disorders, you will be asked to get your arterial blood gases calculated. If a patient is already on oxygen therapy and is being treated with supplemental oxygen, the blood gases are checked regularly in order to monitor the treatment.

Patients who have received injuries that affect their breathing, head or neck and patients who are about to undergo prolonged surgeries performed under the influence of anesthesia are also required to get this blood test done. Their blood gases may be monitored during the surgery and even after the surgery is done.

Arterial Blood Gas Test is also often performed on neonates. This helps determine the acid-base status of the blood and may help uncover any respiratory problems that the new born may have. This test is done when the new born has any problems in breathing. The blood gases in the umbilical cord are checked.