How Does It Work
Are There Any complications?
An arterial line or arterial catheter is a small thin plastic tube, similar to an IV catheter that is inserted into a patient’s artery. An arterial catheter allows the intensive care staff to constantly monitor a patient’s blood pressure, which may be essential for the stabilisation of the patient’s condition. An arterial catheter also provides access for the frequent blood sampling a critically ill patient needs. Blood may be withdrawn from the patient through the tubing without having to use a needle for each blood test. Example of a wrist Arterial Line.
How Does It Work?
Arterial catheter may be inserted into the wrist (radial artery), groin (femoral artery) or foot (pedal artery). An arterial catheter is inserted into the artery using the same technique used to insert a peripheral intravenous drip. It is then sutured or taped to the skin to help keep it within the artery. The tubing is connected to the bedside monitor where the patient’s blood pressure is constantly displayed as a waveform.
Usually, arterial catheters are required for a short period of time but if required for a longer time can be replaced by the medical officer.
Additional information can be found on 'Arterial catheter insertion' page
Are There Any Complications?
All Intensive Care interventions and procedures carry a degree of potential risk even when performed by skilled and experienced staff. Please discuss these issues with the medical and nursing staff who are caring for the patient.
Of course, if you have any questions or concerns, please discuss them with the ICU nurses and doctors.
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Please note these translations are based on an earlier version of this description.
The information contained on this page is general in nature and therefore cannot reflect individual patient variation. In addition it reflects Australian intensive care practice which may differ from other countries. It is meant as a back up to specific information which will be discussed with you by the Doctors and Nurses caring for your loved one. ICCMU attests to the accuracy of the information contained here BUT takes no responsibility for how it may apply to an individual patient. Please refer to the full disclaimer.
Arterial Line Version 1.4
First published June 2004
Reviewed October 2011
Reviewer Kay Johnson CNS ICCMU