In which clinical situations can arterialized blood be used instead of arterial blood for blood gas analysis?
Jadwiga Wedzicha, MD: Capillary blood gases can be extremely useful. Many years ago I did some of the first studies comparing capillary arterialized gases as opposed to a standard radial artery stab investigation, and the results were pretty similar. I think what is important is the technique. It is important if you want to take earlobe blood gases that technicians are trained. But the advantage of it is that you do not need a doctor doing it. Nurses can do it.
I have found over the years arterialized blood gases particularly useful in the follow-up of patients, for instance, on home ventilation and on home oxygen therapy, and also for assessment of patients for home oxygen, because you may want to titrate the oxygen and you do not want to do a radial artery stab each time. It is a very useful technique.
Personally, I think in the acute situation in a hospital, radial stabs are probably just a little bit more accurate. But for titration of oxygen, assessment of hypercapnia—they are particularly good for hypercapnia—that is sufficient.