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Alternative namesBlood sample - arterial
DefinitionAn arterial stick is collection of blood from an artery for laboratory testing.
How the test is performed
Usually the blood is drawn from the wrist. However, it may also be drawn from the inside of the elbow, groin, or other artery. A heartbeat ( pulse ) is felt by pressing on the area above an artery.
The needle is removed after there is a sufficient sample of blood. Pressure is applied to the puncture site for 5 to 10 minutes to stop the bleeding. The person will be monitored during this time to make sure the bleeding stops.
How to prepare for the testPreparation varies with the specific test performed.
For infants and children:
The preparation you can provide for this procedure depends on your child's age and previous experience. For specific information regarding how you can prepare your child, see the following topics:
How the test will feelPuncture of the artery may be somewhat more uncomfortable than puncture of a vein, and requires firm pressure over the site after it is drawn.
When the needle is inserted, most people feel moderate discomfort or pain. Afterward, there may be some throbbing. The arterial stick is more painful than venipuncture because arteries are deeper than veins, have thicker walls, and have more nerves.
Why the test is performed
Blood transports oxygen, food, waste products, and other materials within the body. It is also regulates body temperature, fluids, and acid-base equilibrium.
Blood is made up of a fluid portion (plasma) and a cellular portion. Plasma contains various substances dissolved in the fluid. The cellular portion consists primarily of red blood cells, but also includes white blood cells and platelets .
Because blood serves multiple functions within the body, tests on the blood or its components may give valuable clues in the diagnosis of a multitude of medical conditions.
Normal ValuesSee specific tests, particularly the arterial blood gas test.
What abnormal results meanAn arterial stick is performed to obtain arterial blood samples. Arterial blood samples are primarily performed to measure arterial blood gases (which may indicate breathing problems or metabolic disorders). However, arterial sticks may occasionally be performed to obtain blood culture or serum chemistry samples.
What the risks are
Special considerationsVeins and arteries vary in size from one patient to another and from one side of the body to the other. Obtaining a blood sample from some people may be more difficult than from others. If blood is easier to obtain from a particular location or side, it is helpful to let the person drawing the blood know before starting the test.
Update Date: 8/18/2003David Webner, M.D., Sports Medicine Fellow, Crozer-Keystone Family Practice Program, Springfield, PA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT