HCG blood test - quantitative

Definition

A quantitative human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) test measures the specific level of HCG in the blood. HCG is a hormone produced in the body during pregnancy.

Other HCG tests include:

How the Test is Performed

A blood sample is needed. This is most often taken from a vein. The procedure is called a venipuncture.

How to Prepare for the Test

No special preparation is needed.

How the Test will Feel

When the needle is inserted to draw blood, some people feel moderate pain. Others feel only a prick or stinging sensation. Afterward, there may be some throbbing.

Why the Test is Performed

HCG appears in the blood and urine of pregnant women as early as 10 days after conception. Quantitative HCG measurement helps determine the exact age of the fetus. It can also assist in the diagnosis of abnormal pregnancies, such as ectopic pregnancies, molar pregnancies, and possible miscarriages. It is also used as part of a screening test for Down syndrome.

This test is also done to diagnose abnormal conditions not related to pregnancy that can raise HCG level.

Normal Results

Results are given in milli-international units per milliliter (mUI/mL).

Normal levels are found in:

In pregnancy, HCG level rises rapidly during the first trimester and then declines slightly. The expected HCG ranges in pregnant women are based on the length of the pregnancy.

Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Talk to your provider about the meaning of your specific test result.

What Abnormal Results Mean

Higher than normal level may indicate:

During pregnancy, lower than normal levels based on the gestational age may indicate:

Risks

Risks of having blood drawn are slight, but may include:


Review Date: 9/25/2018
Reviewed By: John D. Jacobson, MD, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Loma Linda University School of Medicine, Loma Linda Center for Fertility, Loma Linda, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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