How is an arterial blood gas (ABG) value used in the diagnosis of status asthmaticus?

Updated: Jun 17, 2020
  • Author: Constantine K Saadeh, MD; Chief Editor: John J Oppenheimer, MD  more...
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An ABG value can be obtained to assess the severity of the asthma attack and to substantiate the need for more intensive care. However, the use of blood gas determination is controversial. The information generated by this measurement may be helpful in determining whether or not to intubate a patient with asthma. However, such decisions are usually made on the basis of clinical grounds in a patient who is either in respiratory arrest or impending respiratory arrest.

If a patient with acute asthma has adequate peripheral oxygen saturation, is receiving further therapy, and does not warrant immediate intubation, then the usefulness of blood gas data should be weighed against the potential pain and agitation that running this test may cause in a child. Improvement or deterioration in acute asthma can generally be followed clinically. Indwelling arterial catheters reduce the pain issue and generate highly reliable and reproducible information.

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