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Am J Emerg Med. 2012 Oct;30(8):1371-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ajem.2011.09.027. Epub 2011 Dec 12.

Prospective correlation of arterial vs venous blood gas measurements in trauma patients.

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  • 1Department of Emergency Medicine, University of California, Irvine, CA 92868, USA.



The objective of this study is to assess if venous blood gas (VBG) results (pH and base excess [BE]) are numerically similar to arterial blood gas (ABG) in acutely ill trauma patients.


We prospectively correlated paired ABG and VBG results (pH and BE) in adult trauma patients when ABG was clinically indicated. A priori consensus threshold of clinical equivalence was set at ± less than 0.05 pH units and ± less than 2 BE units. We hypothesized that ABG results could be predicted by VBG results using a regression equation, derived from 173 patients, and validated on 173 separate patients.


We analyzed 346 patients and found mean arterial pH of 7.39 and mean venous pH of 7.35 in the derivation set. Seventy-two percent of the paired sample pH values fell within the predefined consensus equivalence threshold of ± less than 0.05 pH units, whereas the 95% limits of agreement (LOAs) were twice as wide, at -0.10 to 0.11 pH units. Mean arterial BE was -2.2 and venous BE was -1.9. Eighty percent of the paired BE values fell within the predefined ± less than 2 BE units, whereas the 95% LOA were again more than twice as wide, at -4.4 to 3.9 BE units. Correlations between ABG and VBG were strong, at r(2) = 0.70 for pH and 0.75 for BE.


Although VBG results do correlate well with ABG results, only 72% to 80% of paired samples are clinically equivalent, and the 95% LOAs are unacceptably wide. Therefore, ABG samples should be obtained in acutely ill trauma patients if accurate acid-base status is required.

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