Air blood gas test: Ive just joined and... - British Lung Foun...

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Air blood gas test


Ive just joined and saw a question about how painful it is having one. I had a test done 2days ago and the dr has damaged the nerve in my wrist and then. I nearly shot off the bed when it happened. I also have had this test done by a community matron in my home. They use a numbing cream on your earlobe and you don't feel a thing. But this is only available out in the community not in hospitals.

14 Replies

He first igo mine done on my wrist and I nearly jump out of chair the second time I got it done was my ear lobe and both were done in hospital and that was not sore

Hi Amethyst, I've had this test done in hospital a number of times and it has always been to the ear lobe, with the numbing cream.

These are different tests, The ear lobe is a very basic test and is used for guidance. The wrist test is more precise because it takes the blood directly from the vein and gives a full and accurate record of your blood gases, This test is not pleasant but very necessary because it shows if your blood gasses and pH are out of balance and whether you need urgent treatment for hypoxia etc.

I agree with @anndylan, and it is exactly what we were told on Pulmonary Rehabilitation. I have been having the wrist one off and on since my 20s whenever I end up in hospital. I know it will be painful, but the pain lasts less than a minute, unless they have to try digging again. I just grin and bear it. It does not last as long as toothache, that's the way I look at it.

Hi h I have had a few too. Some are pain full and some are not it depends on the person doing it. I was in hospital a few weeks ago and needed to have that test done a doctor did it he had to do it twice the first on hurt but the second on I didn't feel a thing. And that was from the wrist l have never had it done from ear lobe


the 'best' one I had done was by a student...didn't feel anything at all and no bruising afterwards...the very worst was by a fully qualified Doctor who took an age and it hurt like hell!

I was surprised when my consultant did my ABG's himself during an outpatient visit. As he came from behind his desk with the needle I said I would look away and grit my teeth as I had heard how painful this type of blood test was. He replied that it simply depended on who did it and how skilled they were and that it shouldn't feel too different from any other sort of blood test. I really thought he was just trying to calm me but he was right - it was no different to any other blood test. I think if it's not done perfectly then yes it hurts more - also we expect it to hurt. I think because only a tiny percentage of patients ever need or are tested for oxygen, the nurses don't build up the same skill level as they might with the more common type of blood test - that said I have had a couple of awful experiences with those. I sat for 40 minutes once with a nurse who was getting more distressed than me as after umpteen attempts she was getting nowhere. It occurred to me that the veins on the back of my hands stood out well so I suggested she try there - which she did with success. She explained after that with age and chronic illness our veins can become 'floppy' and apparently mine were very floppy (LOL ... a bit like another part of my anatomy has gone with age!). I was advised in future to warn any nurse of this before they started trying to take blood. I realise I have wandered a off subject a bit as ABG's involve the arteries not the veins - but wonder if any others have had this problem with venal blood tests?

Hi I have the same problem with normal blood tests. As I have to go every two weeks for blood tests due to medication I take. And some times I come home with plenty of bruises from were the nurse had tryed to get blood out of me. And some times it comes out very slowly.

Hello and welcome Amethyst

I have had arterial blood taken by the lung function specialist at my local hospital and it didn't hurt at all, and by a doctor in A&E on a different occasion and it hurt. So it depends on who is going it! I have also had arterial blood taken from my ear by the lung function practitioner at The Brompton and it didn't hurt at all apart from the initial prick.

You are all correct it depends who does it. In my consultants office the nurse does them all the time and is excellent but some nurses and doctors make it very painful. I was told that they should only have three attempts before getting someone else to try.

Never allow doctors near you with a needle if it can be avoided - nurses are far better in my experience.

I believe this test is for blood gases and is taken from the artery not the vein hence it is from the wrist and can be far more difficult to do - I am still waiting (over 3 months now) for my respiratory nurse to come and try yet again - last time he tried on both wrists several times and still failed to get a sample and yes it was painful every time he tried there is apparently only one machine for the whole of Cornwall - COPD care is very sparse down here - no dedicated team and one (soon the move jobs) respiratory nurse for most of Cornwall.

Hi the actual test is done with a needle . Not a machine. People usually only have them done in a hospital I had one done a few weeks ago when I was admitted to hospital with pneumonia. And the wanted a proper reading of my blood gasses.

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