When it is necessary to measure the acid/base status and oxygenation of your blood, a venous blood gas test is in order. Your doctor may request this if you have been exhibiting such symptoms as shortness of breath, problems breathing, vomiting, or nausea. Any of these may indicate an imbalance in your acid/base levels.
Sometimes venous blood gases are measured in combination with electrolyte, glucose, creatinine, and/or BUN tests to measure electrolyte levels and/or glucose levels, or to evaluate the functioning of your kidneys. Venous blood gas tests may be ordered on an ongoing basis as a tool to measure whether or not therapies, such as supplemental oxygen therapy (aka: ventilation), are effective. This is especially true if you have experienced symptoms of respiratory distress, or if you are suffering from kidney disease or any metabolic or respiratory disorder.
Your doctor may recommend venous blood gas measurements if you have had an injury that could affect your ability to breathe freely. For example, if you have had a head and/or neck injury, your doctor would be very likely to request a venous blood gas test.
Other conditions that might affect breathing include extended anaesthesia. For this reason, if you are scheduled for lengthy surgery (e.g. cardiac bypass, brain surgery) your venous blood gases will be monitored during the operation. Your doctor will also want to keep track of them for an appropriate amount of time following the operation.
Newborn babies often have venous blood gas levels measured from their umbilical cords. This is a smart step to screen for respiratory problems, and check on the acid/base status of the newborn. When babies are born with breathing difficulties, you can count on the testing of venous blood gas, just to be safe.
When the results of a venous blood gas test are abnormal, there are a number of possible causes. For example, it is possible you aren’t able to intake an adequate amount of oxygen. Or conversely, you are not able to exhale an adequate amount of carbon dioxide. You may also have kidney problems. The interpretation of your results is dependent upon the component of blood gases measured as abnormal.
For example, if the PO2 component of your venous blood gas test is skewed, it is an indication of lack of oxygen and/or excess of carbon dioxide. Other components of the venous blood gas tests are connected, and must be considered as a whole. If the other components of the test measure as abnormal, it could mean that you are experiencing a pH imbalance (i.e. alkalosis or acidosis).
If your pH levels are low and your PCO2 levels are high, it may indicate a depressing of the respiratory system, resulting in a dearth of oxygen with an excess of carbon dioxide. Causes of this condition include use or over-use of prescription or illicit narcotics, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), pneumonia, and other conditions. All things considered, it is easy to see how having blood gases measured is an excellent diagnostic tool.
If pH levels are high and PCO2 levels are low, it is indicative of excessive ventilation. This can be caused by certain types of lung diseases which create an imbalance of oxygen exchange. Additionally, this malady could be caused by anxiety, emotional distress, pain, and/or hyperventilation.
When both pH levels and HCO3 levels are low, it is indicative of metabolic acidosis. In this situation, the blood at themetabolic/kidney level is excessively acidic. This can be caused by renal failure, shock, diabetes and other conditions.
When both pH levels and HCO3- levels are elevated, it is indicative of metabolic alkalosis. This can be caused by an overdose of bicarbonate of soda, loss of stomach acid through chronic vomiting, or hypokalemia (low potassium levels in the blood).
These conditions must be treated quickly and efficiently. Leaving these imbalances in place is potentially dangerous, or even fatal. Venous blood gas tests provide your doctor with a wealth of information that will help him/her design therapy for you that will return your body to its natural balance. Simultaneously, you and your doctor can work together to resolve the causes of the imbalance.
With convenient, affordable venous blood gas tests from LabTestPortal.com, you can carefully monitor your pH, oxygen, and carbon dioxide levels between annual physical appointments. Our friendly, knowledgeable consultants are happy to review your results with you, and help with any questions you may have. Keeping track of your venous blood gases with LabTestPortal.com is a smart way to take control of your health.