Speciﬁcally, this describes the measurement of the tensions of oxygen and carbon dioxide in blood. However, it is commonly used to describe the analysis of a sample of heparinised arterial blood for measurement of oxygen, carbon dioxide, oxygen saturation, pH, bicarbonate, and base excess (the amount of acid required to return a unit volume of the blood to normal pH). These values are vital in monitoring the severity of illness in patients receiving intensive care or who have severe respiratory illness, as they provide a guide to the eﬀectiveness of oxygen transport between the outside air and the body tissues. Thus they are both a guide to whether the patient is being optimally ventilated, and also a general guide to the severity of their illness.
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