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Acute Care Advisor 2017.1 Copyright © 2017 RelayHealth, a division of McKesson Technologies Inc. All rights reserved.

What is the arterial blood gas test?

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An arterial blood gas (ABG) test is a blood test that measures:

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  • The amount of oxygen in your blood. Oxygen is breathed into the lungs and carried to the body’s tissues through the blood.

  • The amount of carbon dioxide in your blood. Carbon dioxide is a waste that the body creates. It is carried away from the body’s tissues by the blood to the lungs and breathed out.

  • The balance of chemicals called acids and bases in your blood. Your body needs a careful balance of these chemicals to be able to function well. Problems with your kidneys or heart failure, diseases like diabetes, or a severe infection can cause an unhealthy imbalance.

  • The amount of bicarbonate in your blood. Bicarbonate is released or absorbed by your kidneys to keep the acid-base balance stable.

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It may be done to: