46 Comments

  1. CBarr

    Hi I just came across this and although it’s a great explanation, in your first interpretation of pH you put in parenthesis acidic (down) as well as basic (down) instead of (up) . Sorry if this seems petty but it almost made me leave the page because I thought the article would not be credible. I stuck around though and it was really is helpful, just wouldn’t want anyone to miss out on the info. Thank you!

    • Saaru

      What we say to it if both pco2 and hco3 is abnormal and ph remain as it is.yesterdy i performed 1 ABG,result was pH 7.35,Pco2 23.0,Hco3 12 .3,its obviously compensatory but wt actual medical term should i give it, in respect to metabolic and respiratory?

  2. L

    Thank you so much for taking the time to share this organized, thoughtful process! The Lord God bless your efforts, your health, and your family!

  3. Samah

    Thank you so much and I have a question -What is the different between uncompensated and partially compensated? I am confused :/

  4. GOH MEI YING

    what if my patient having high partial pressure of co2 but low in hco3 ….. pH is low …. o2 saturation is low…. the patient is having severe acute exacerbation of bronchial asthma ….

    What is this condition for the patient? respiratory acidosis without compensation ? how to explain the low hco3 ??

  5. Gabriela

    I didn’t get the part when you have to differentiate between respiratory or metabolic. Example
    pH is 7.6
    PaCO2 is 60
    HCO3 is 32
    Could you explain last part please!
    Thank you

  6. Ashley

    i have been searching the internet for days trying to find a simple, right to the point explanation of partially compensated vs fully compensated. Other places make it so difficult! SO glad i found this! Thank you!

  7. hi what if the pH is normal and either the PaCO2 or HCO3 is normal how will you identify it as partially fully compensated and uncompensated??thank you soo much i am confused 🙂

    • Basically, that is an example that you would never see on a nursing school exam! That’s the easy answer to your question 😉

      If you saw it in a real patient, however, it COULD indicate that they are in the very early stages of an imbalance. Since the pH is still normal, then they are NOT currently having an acid/base imbalance, however. But if either the PaCO2 or HCO3 is abnormal, it could indicate that something is going wrong in that system (either respiratory or metabolic, depending on which value is abnormal). And if the underlying cause of that imbalance is not addressed, then it could eventually lead to an abnormal pH.

  8. redhead nurse

    Thank you so much. I am in my last semester of nursing school and truly never understood how to interpret and analyze ABG’s until I read this. You are awesome!

  9. Charmane West

    What do you do if the pH is normal PC03 and the Hc03 is in normal range. How can you tell if it is acidosis or alkalosis if everything is in normal range. also if the Pco2 is 41 and the Hc03 is 25.5 ph is 7.4 should it be respiratory or metabolic. Some times numbers are in normal range they are not greater than or less than. So I do I Interpret. I am lost with the arrows also. Can you help?

    Thank you Charmane

    • Good question! I only talk about abnormal values in this article, but if all those values are in the normal range, then the patient is normal! No imbalances, so you wouldn’t have to pick acidosis/alkalosis. Same with respiratory/metabolic; if there is no imbalance, then you don’t have to identify an underlying cause.

  10. Rachel

    Thank you so much. I have a huge test tomorrow that will have a ton of ABG’s on it if I didn’t come across this I don’t know how I would of understood. It finally clicked for me

  11. Jess

    Hello, thank you so much for this amazing explanation! I was just wondering, and this may be a stupid question, but what effect does the PaO2 have on the ABG? thank you so much, have a good night.

    • When you’re interpreting ABGs, the PaO2 doesn’t add info. That’s why I basically ignore it in this article. Obviously, it is important data when you’re working with a real patient, and it tells you about their oxygenation status.

  12. Anita

    I cant believe this worked perfectly for me. Med Surg is giving me nightmares. Glad I took the time to look at it.

  13. Jack

    You are such an angel sent from up above. Thank you thank you thank you thank you sooo much for this! Seriously.

      • 6b and 6c are confusing.Its like you interchanged.Is it if PH is abnormal and either CO2 or HCO3 are normal that is partially compensated?

        • Kim Milligan

          I think there are several mistakes within this article, that being one of them. It appears that you won’t get a response due to the original posting date.

          #2. Basic is up, not down….
          #6b if nothing is normal it is partially compensated.
          #6c if either CO2 or HCO3 is normal it is uncompensated.

          But I hope this helps. Check out Pinterest for ABG’s nursing….

    • Hasuten

      OMZ! THANK YOUUUUUU! I AM NOT A NURSING STUDENT BUT IT WAS DISCUSSED IN OUR GEN BIO AND I FOUND IT VERY DIFFICULT AND PUZZLING BUT THEN I READ THIS AND I GOT IT!!! THANK YOUUU VERYY MUUUUCH! I’M SO HAPPPPPY!!!!

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