Arterial blood gas (ABG)

Blood for an arterial blood gas (ABG) test is taken from an artery. Most other blood tests are done on a sample of blood taken from a vein, after the blood has already passed through the body’s tissues where the oxygen is used and carbon dioxide is produced.

When your doctor requests an ABG, your pathology specimen collector will be accessing an artery in your inner wrist, to collect the sample. This collection does not require a tourniquet and can be a little more uncomfortabe than your usual blood collections.

You will be asked to apply pressure to your wrist for a period of 5 minutes after collection.



ABGs will not be performed at collection centres or during home visits on patients who are taking anti-coagulant therapy such as Warfarin, Heparin or  new oral anticoagulants (NOACs) such as:

  • Rivaroxaban (Xarelto® Bayer)
  • Dabigatran (Pradaxa® Boehringer Ingelheim)
  • Apixaban (Eliquis® Pfizer)

NOTE: It is permissible to perform ABGs on patients taking Aspirin as there is less risk of a re-bleed.

Hospital-based ABG collections do not carry the same restrictions. If you are on oxygen therapy, you may be requested to stop your oxygen for a period of 30 minutes prior to the test.


Post ABG care:

Immediately after the procedure, the collector will ask you to apply pressure to the collection site for a period of 5 minutes. Oxygen, if removed, can be replaced immediately after the collection has been completed.

After 5 minutes, the collector will check the site, and if the bleeding has stopped, a pressure bandage will be applied. This bandage should remain in place for 2 hours after collection.

  • Do not go to bed while wearing this bandage
  • Do not lift anything or do any strenuous exercise with this arm
  • If you are a hospital in-patient, do not use your ‘monkey bar’ during this recovery period

If re-bleeding occurs, ensure further pressure is applied until this has stopped. If you have any concerns about the collection site, please visit your nearest Sullivan Nicolaides collection centre. For your nearest centre, visit Collection Centre Locations or telephone patient services support on 1300 732 030

Item number 52394 - Issue date February 2018