Comparing Central Venous Blood Gas to Arterial Blood Gas and Determining Its Utility in Critically Ill Patients: Narrative Review.
Arterial blood gas (ABG) analysis is used in critical care units to determine the degree of oxygenation, adequacy of ventilation, and the presence and severity of acid-base disturbances in the body. However, arterial puncture may result in complications, and the difficulty in acquiring arterial blood may delay care. Central venous blood gas (VBG) is a potentially more accessible alternative to ABG sampling. Current evidence suggests that pH and Pco2 obtained via peripheral VBG correlate well with ABG measurement. Nevertheless, the value of using central VBG to guide clinical decisions or as a surrogate for ABG is unclear. The purpose of this review is to explore the relationship between ABGs and central VBGs in critically ill patients. We performed a MEDLINE search using the following search terms: venous blood gas, arterial blood gas, and central venous blood gas. We excluded studies that did not involve human subjects, and only pH and Pco2 values were reviewed and examined from the studies included. All cited references from included studies were also reviewed to identify relevant literature. We identified 7 studies that met our criteria. In studies of hemodynamically stable patients, the mean difference between arterial and central venous pH and Pco2 was 0.03 units and 4-6.5 mm Hg, respectively. However, in patients with circulatory failure, the difference between central venous and arterial pH/Pco2 was 4-fold greater. We concluded that central VBG parameters of pH and Pco2 are potentially good surrogates for determining arterial pH and Pco2 in a stable patient without severe acid-base disturbances. Furthermore, central VBG can be used as a useful screening tool for arterial hypercapnia. In addition, we derived an adjustment formula for ABG conversion from central VBG: (1) arterial pH = venous pH + 0.05 units and (2) arterial Pco2 = venous Pco2 - 5 mm Hg.
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