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Beta Hcg

Beta Hcg

What is beta hCG?

Beta HCG "the pregnancy hormone" is produced by the cells of the implanting embryo and can be produced in the absence of an embryo. Beta hCG can be detected in maternal plasma or urine by 8 to 9 days after ovulation. The chart to the right illustrates the normal rise and fall of hCG levels throughout pregnancy. hCG reaches a peak level at about 8 to 10 weeks and then declines for the remainder of the pregnancy

What is beta HCG test?

Beta human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) is a hormone produced by the placenta during pregnancy, and is typically detected in the blood. A beta HCG test is a blood test used to diagnose pregnancy, and usually becomes positive around the time of the first missed period.

How is a beta HCG test performed?

Beta HCG (BHCG) test requires a small tube of blood, taken from a vein by your doctor.

Why would you need to get a beta HCG test?

Beta HCG (BHCG or blood pregnancy test) may be performed by your doctor if they suspect that you may be pregnant, or if you suspect pregnancy yourself! Usual pregnancy symptoms include a missed or late period (amenorrhea), breast fullness or tenderness, or nausea and vomiting (morning sickness).

The test is often routinely performed in women of childbearing age with abdominal pain, and those who require an Abdominal X-Ray or Pelvic X-Ray, because of concerns or radiation to an unborn baby.

In some situations a quantitative beta HCG may be useful. This measures the amount of this hormone in the blood. Under normal circumstances, this level doubles approximately every 2 days, in the first trimester.

Test results explained

Qualitative beta HCG:

  • A POSITIVE beta HCG means that the woman IS pregnant
  • A NEGATIVE beta HCG means that the woman is NOT pregnant

Quantitative beta HCG:

The result is given as a number, indicating the measured concentration of the hormone in the blood

The fetus is usually visible on a trans-vaginal ultrasound scan when the level is above 1500 units

When the level is above 4000 units, the fetus is also usually visible on a transabdominal ultrasound scan.

The beta HCG level usually doubles approximately every 2 days.

Also known as

  • Blood pregnancy test
  • Serum HCG
  • Qualitative Beta HCG
  • Quantitative Beta-HCG (“Quant”

How The Beta Hcg Exam Is Done

If you are an attentive reader, by now you may be wondering why I sometimes write hCG, while at others, beta hCG (BhCG). After all, what is the difference between hCG and beta hCG?

HCG is a hormone composed of two large molecules, called the alpha subunit (or alpha fraction) and beta subunit (or beta fraction). The first is structurally similar to several other hormones, such as follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) or luteinizing hormone (LH). The second one is unique and is found in no other hormone. Therefore, to reduce the risk of cross-reaction with other hormones and hence the occurrene of false positives, laboratories only search for the beta fraction.

The hCG produced by the fetus passes into the mother’s bloodstream and is filtered by the kidneys, being part of it then eliminated by the urine. As such, beta hCG can be dosed in both the blood and urine of the woman. Except for in rare cases, which will be explained later, if BhCG ​​is detected in the woman’s blood or urine, she is pregnant.

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