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An arterial line or arterial catheter is a small thin plastic tube, similar to an IV catheter that is inserted into a peripheral artery.
Most often used in an Intensive Care setting it is used only for measuring blood pressure and for blood sampling. The arterial line is contiguous with the patient’s artery and therefore carries the same pressure. This is recorded on a monitor in a wave fashion noting the peaks (the systolic pressure) and the valleys (the diastolic pressure) in the arterial system of the patient
Arterial Line in patient radial artery
An arterial line also provides access for the frequent blood sampling. Blood may be withdrawn from the patient through the tubing without having to use a needle for each blood test.
Nothing is ever injected into an arterial line as it will travel to the fingers and end up causing complications such as necrosis.
Insertion sites are usually in the wrist (radial artery), armpit (axillary artery), groin (femoral artery), or foot (pedal artery).
Often the arterial line is marked with red tape around the dressing so that it may not be confused with lines used for other purposes.
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, Jan 11 2011, 6:56 AM EST
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