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Arterial versus capillary sampling for analysing blood gas pressures

BMJ 1995; 310 doi: (Published 07 January 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;310:24
  1. Khavar Dar, medical registrara,
  2. Tim Williams, consultant physiciana,
  3. Richard Aitken, top grade biochemista,
  4. Kent L Woods, senior lecturerb,
  5. Susan Fletcher, research assistantb
  1. a Department of Medicine and Clinical Biochemistry, Kettering General Hospital NHS Trust, Kettering NN16 8UZ
  2. b Department of Medicine and Therapeutics, University of Leicester, Leicester
  1. Correspondence to: Dr Williams.
  • Accepted 17 October 1994

Arterial puncture is carried out to obtain samples for analysis of blood gas pressures. Although painful1 and not without hazard,2 arterial puncture is done routinely despite reports that similar information about blood gas pressures can be obtained from capillary samples.3 We quantified patients' perception of the discomfort of sampling from radial arteries compared with that of capillary sampling and compared the biochemical data obtained with these two methods.

Methods and results

We recruited 55 patients requiring measurement of blood gas pressures from patients admitted urgently to Kettering General Hospital. The study's protocol was approved by the district's ethics committee, and informed written consent was obtained for the blood sampling. The clinical diagnoses were exacerbation of chronic obstructive airways disease (22 patients), asthma (10), pneumonia (5), pulmonary oedema (4), pulmonary embolism (4), diabetic ketoacidosis …

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