Arterial Line Placement
An arterial or “art-line” is a thin, hollow tube placed in an artery in the wrist, antecubital space (where the arm bends), or the groin. An art-line is used to keep track of the patient’s blood pressure at all times. It can also be used to get frequent blood samples.
There are common reasons for having an art line. They include:
- Low or high blood pressure – The art-line can be used to track blood pressures that are high or low despite medicine.
- Severe lung problems – An art-line is helpful for patients with severe lung problems that need blood drawn for frequent arterial blood gases (ABGs). Without an art-line, patients would have frequent needle pokes causing pain.
As with any procedure, there are risks. Some of the risks include:
- Pain – Patients may feel a poke as the doctor inserts the needle. Local numbing agents are used to limit pain. Once the needle is in and the catheter is in place, the pain lessens.
- Infection – Bacteria can enter the body through the catheter and infect the patient. The longer a line is in place, the greater the risk. Routine changing of the line lowers this risk.
- Bleeding – When the doctor inserts the needle, there is a risk of nicking a blood vessel. Since the catheter is being placed in an artery, patients are at risk of losing blood quickly. If bleeding occurs, or by chance the catheter comes out, a patient could lose a large amount of blood.
- Blood clots– Blood clots can form in and around the catheter. They can plug the tube so that it can no longer be used.
The information provided should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
Last Updated: 11/06/2012
Copyright © 11/06/2012 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#6344
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