Modern electrodebased blood gas analyzers

The pH, PCO2, and PO2 measurements are traditionally accomplished by blood gas analyzers composed of specially designed electrodes encased in a thermostatically controlled chamber. Although specific features vary among manufacturers, the principles of their respective electrodes and analytical procedures are extremely similar. Modern blood gas analyzers have evolved into automated self-diagnostic instruments, requiring minimal maintenance, that not only calculate bicarbonate, base excess/deficit, and temperature corrections, but also interface with computer systems to allow data storage, trending analysis, blood gas interpretation, and other algorithms. Stability, consistency, and speed have been maximized by the electrode and chamber designs, and by microprocessor control of analysis and calibration processes. Several models have expanded to include ion-selective electrodes for measurements of Na +, K+, Cl-, and Ca2+, as well as electrical conductivity measurements of hematocrit on a single sample whose volume is measured in microliters. Others have combined a blood gas analyzer and co-oximeter into a single unit. Still others have miniaturized and re-formed the traditional electrodes into electrochemical sensors that are imprinted on a computer card and can function reliably outside the traditional laboratory setting, even at the bedside; thus the delay between obtaining the sample and receiving results is significantly reduced. These devices are generally referred to as point-of-care analyzers ( T.em.p.Jin:KP.zl.P.wski 1995).

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