blood gas testing through the thumb - British Lung Foun...

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blood gas testing through the thumb

gillwigan profile image

I had blood gas test done today at my copd unit , i was shocked when the nurse took the blood out of my thumb and it was painless , i have never heard of blood gas being taken in this way , the nurse mentioned something about The radial artery , has anyone else had blood gas test done in this way ?

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16 Replies

No I haven't. Mine was taken from my earlobe, which was a little painful - even although they had put a numbing cream on first. However, I was assured that it was less painful than having it taken directly from an artery.

Perhaps having it taken from the thumb is similar to the earlobe.

tanyamarie profile image
tanyamarie in reply to Annexx

my dad had his from his earlobe too....he thought it was plain weird!

Annexx profile image
Annexx in reply to tanyamarie

lol so did I. It feels kind of hot and tender afterwards too, but maybe that's because they squeeze hard to stop the bleeding. I had it done before and after the exercise part of the cardiopulmonary function test. The second time I didn't notice so much because I was so out of breath at the time! :)

No from me as well had four done all at the wrist, is this a new experiment you are taking part in for testing a different way of doing things ?

All of my ABG samples have been taken from the wrist too................... OUCH !

I found that intriguing as have not heard of it being taken from the thumb, a quick web search revealed (US children's Hospital, Winsconsin mention radial artery, on the thumb side of the wrist - see 1st paragraph, last sentence)

I hope your nurse didn't mis understand the instructions where to get the arterial blood gas!

jjnanna profile image
jjnanna in reply to

OMG I do hope not, cos you entrust these folk with your body and hope they do know what they are doing lol x

Its left me confused for sure the nurse did use a one-time needle stick and i have to say others who were at the clinic were also tested this way , when the nurse tested the blood she said my oxygen levels are fine as is my carbon dioxide, but i was left feeling unconvinced by the test , having said that i could be wrong of course and i hope someone can tell us more about this method .

found this .

Yes I have had my blood gasses tested on my ear lobe twice in the last couple of months ( the first by my oxygen nurse ( who said she had a very new expensive machine ( £ 3000 +) and the second time at royal brompton a couple of weeks ago. It certainly beats all that digging around to find your artery in the back of your hand - very painful, particularly when they can't find it first time.


The Radial artery extends down the arm, traverses the wrist area and continues down into the thumb. ABG's taken from the thumb are perfectly fine and the blood is still coming from the exact same artery as when done using a site on the wrist. It is simply a matter of preference and judgement by the nurse as to where she can most easily and least painfully access the blood required. At least now gilwigan you can rest assured that your sats are fine and start doing some exercise without fearing your sob. Congratulations on your good news, Parvati :)

Thank's Parvati im happy that my sats are fine , the consultant still wants me to go ahead with a full lung function test next week and has hinted at a CT scan he say's i have emphysema and Asthma and needs to know what is causing the SOB my pulse is still going very high i blew on a spryo yesterday and my pulse raced to 130, also my spiro test are strange in the last 4 weeks i have blown a FEV of 58, 43, and yesterday 53, my consultant says that is not consistent with copd so it's sounds like it's more the Asthma and dyspena to me .

Would like to put your mind at rest, the tests are painless so you have nothing to fear only an understanding of the reasons for the way you feel. Asthma is almost fully reversible in affects once inhalers have been used, unfortunately the small changes in FEV 1 are quite normal with your COPD diagnosis, please check this with the BLF

information leaflets.

Thanks Bilbo the test were done yesterday and were indeed painless , i think what concerned my consultant was the drop from 58 to 43 in a couple of months , i will see what the full lung function test brings though and report back here .

I have had tests done from my earlobe and wrists. I would like to say that although on each occasion the doctor/nurse apologised for the pain before taking it from my wrist I found it painless. I thought the ear test was painful despite the cream to numb it.

My consultant did mine himself - I hadn't been expecting it as i thought he was just going to discuss the results of my overnight sleep test. I said to him 'you're going to hurt me now aren't you - i've heard how painful these are'. He promised not to hurt - and didn't. He 'modestly' said it was because he was really expert at it and it was all a matter of technique - these consultants are real charmers aren't they :) He ran down the corridor with it himself to get the test done and was back in less than five minutes with the result. I seem to have been exceptionally lucky with my consultant - i always leave his office feeling upbeat somehow, even when the news isn't so good. P.

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