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What is an arterial line insertion?

An arterial line insertion is a procedure in which your doctor or a specially trained nurse inserts a tiny tube (catheter) in an artery, usually in the wrist. An arterial line is used in very ill or injured patients to take continuous blood pressure readings. This is called intra-arterial pressure (IAP) monitoring. It also provides a way to draw blood for lab tests without repeated punctures.           

Continuous IAP readings are more accurate than those taken by a blood pressure cuff. IAP readings also provide more information about your health status than a cuff.  

Arterial line insertion and IAP is only one way to monitor your blood pressure and condition. Your care team will evaluate your IAP readings along with other vital signs, physical exam, medical history, and diagnostic tests. Ask your doctor about all the methods used to evaluate your condition.  

Medical Reviewers: Daphne E. Hemmings, MD, MPH Last Review Date: Jul 4, 2013

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Medical References

  1. Arterial Line. Society of Critical Care Medicine. http://www.icu-usa.com/tour/equipment/aline.htm.
  2. A comparison of a continuous noninvasive arterial pressure (CNAP) monitor with and invasive arterial blood pressure monitor in the cardiac surgical ICU. Annals of Cardiac Anesthesia. http://www.annals.in/article.asp?issn=0971-9784;year=2012;volume=15;issue=3;spage=180;epage=184;aula....
  3. Hypertensive Emergency - IV Agents. Global RPh. http://www.globalrph.com/hypertensive_emer.htm.
  4. Placement of an Arterial Line. The New England Journal of Medicine. http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMvcm044149.
  5. Radial arterial lines. British Journal of Hospital Medicine. http://www.ucl.ac.uk/anaesthesia/StudentsandTrainees/Arterial_Line.

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