Arterial blood gases (or ABGs) are some of the more difficult lab tests to understand in all of medicine. Sure, there are normal results given along with the test values, but it doesn't end there. What does a certain pH in the blood mean? Where does the bicarbonate level come from? These components, along with other values, need to be understood so you can interpret them.
Basically, the ABGs are a test of the arterial blood that check the oxygen levels, the carbon dioxide levels, the acidity (or pH) of the blood, the oxyhemoglobin saturation, and the bicarbonate. If you have a fancy blood gas analyzer, you can get a methemoglobin level, a carboxyhemoglobin level, and sometimes just a hemoglobin level. Each of these lab tests reveal crucial values that are important in caring for patients in the intensive care unit (ICU) and other hospital settings. If you do not know what oxyhemoglobin saturation means (or any of these values), never fear By the time you finish this guide, you will be an old pro
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