How can ABG determinations assist in the diagnosis of pulmonary embolism (PE)?

Updated: Jun 06, 2019
  • Author: Daniel R Ouellette, MD, FCCP; Chief Editor: Zab Mosenifar, MD, FACP, FCCP  more...
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Answer

Arterial blood gas determinations characteristically reveal hypoxemia, hypocapnia, and respiratory alkalosis; however, the predictive value of hypoxemia is quite low. The PaO2 and the calculation of alveolar-arterial oxygen gradient contribute to the diagnosis in a general population thought to have pulmonary embolism. Nonetheless, in high-risk settings such as patients in postoperative states in whom other respiratory conditions can be ruled out, a low PaO2 in conjunction with dyspnea may have a strong positive predictive value.


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