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An arterial line is a thin, flexible tube. It’s put into an artery (blood vessel that carries oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the rest of the body). An arterial line allows easy monitoring of your blood pressure. This is needed during certain hospital procedures. This sheet explains the procedure to place the line.
Through an arterial line, your blood pressure can be continuously monitored. This allows your healthcare provider to know right away if your blood pressure quickly rises or drops. The line also allows repeated blood samples to be taken for testing without the need to stick you with a needle each time.
Placing the line takes about 15 minutes. The line may be placed into your wrist, arm, foot, or groin. To place the line:
The insertion site is cleaned.
Medication (local anesthetic) is injected in the skin near the insertion site. This numbs the area to help prevent pain.
A needle is inserted through the skin into the artery. The needle is used to guide the line into the artery. Once the line is in place, the needle is removed. The line is then taped or sutured (stitched) to your skin. This helps prevent the line from being pulled out.
The site is covered with a bandage.
A nurse will make sure the line is open and working properly. Tell the nurse if you feel pain. You can be given medication to relive it. The line will stay in place for as long as needed. In some cases, the line needs to be replaced after a certain number of days.
Blood clots or air bubbles in the artery that can block blood flow to the heart, brain, or other areas of the body
Blockage of the line or the line falling out
Sudden narrowing of the artery
Hematoma at the incision site
Damage to nerves or the artery