Many important clinical decisions are taken based on the blood gas data. For the same reason, it is crucial to obtain these values from a reliable blood gas analyzer. The first blood gas analyzer that measured pH, PCO2, and PO2 was developed in 1957. Blood gas analysis came to be widely used in clinical settings, surgery, anesthesia, and intensive care by 1966. Competent devices were produced later. The first combined blood gas/electrolyte analyzer was introduced in 1985. It comes with a menu of pH, PCO2, PO2, Na, K, iCa, and hematocrit.
With current advancements, analyzers became smaller and easier to use, and gradually migrated into point of care (POC) areas. Arterial blood gas analysis is performed in the clinical laboratory mainly using a bench-top analyzer. Bench-top critical care analyzers feature individual biosensor technology, broadest test menu and lowest cost of operation.
Point-of-care analyzers are designed to provide acid-base measurements at the bedside. Incredibly sophisticated, stable, and fast, these current analyzers provide quick results. They are ideal for use in in emergency departments and operation rooms, where blood gas analysis helps to monitor mechanically ventilated patients. Rapid measurements of blood Pco2 and pH allow patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome to benefit from permissive hypercapnia (with low tidal volumes) to minimize pulmonary stress.
Reliable cartridge-based point-of-care analyzers added to the blood gas family include:
- RAPIDPoint 400 System from Bayer (now a division of Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics) – Whether at the point of care bedside, blood gas lab, or at other sites, Rapidpoint 400 delivers fast response. It can measure pH, blood gas, electrolytes, glucose and hematocrit with high precision. This self-contained cartridge-based blood gas system can provide maintenance free operation at all times.
- Abbott i-STAT 1 – Using as little as two drops of blood and a test cartridge, it can give accurate results within two minutes, whenever you need it. The use of self-contained cartridges makes the equipment simple to use and operate.
Modern analyzers have computer interfaces and internal algorithms to calculate pertinent parameters such as correction for body temperature, and calculations of oxygen saturation.
State and federal regulation has mandated a strict quality control (QC) program to evaluate an analyzer’s performance. According to the CMS’ new individualized quality control plan (IQCP) based on risk management, for blood gas analyzers users should perform a minimum of three QC per day, or follow the manufacturer’s requirement for frequency of external quality controls, whichever is greater. Several new approaches have been made to QC. Most modern critical care blood gas analyzers provide onboard QC that can be run automatically or on demand.