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HCG to detect pregnancy

An egg is normally fertilized by a sperm cell in a fallopian tube . Within 9 days the fertilized egg moves down the fallopian tube into the uterus. It then attaches (implants) to the wall of the uterus. After the fertilized egg implants, the growing placenta starts releasing hCG into your blood. Some hCG also gets passed in your urine. HCG can be found in the blood before the first missed menstrual period. This can be as early as 6 days after the egg implants.

HCG helps to keep your pregnancy going. It also affects the development of your baby (fetus). Levels of hCG go up fast in the first 14 to 16 weeks after your last menstrual period. They are the highest around the 14th week following your last period. They then go down gradually. The amount that hCG goes up early in pregnancy can give information about your pregnancy and the health of your baby. Soon after delivery, hCG can no longer be found in your blood.

HCG blood tests

The level of hCG in the blood is often used as part of a screening for birth defects in a maternal serum triple or quadruple screening test. These tests are usually done between 15 and 20 weeks of pregnancy to check the levels of three or four substances in a pregnant woman's blood. The triple screen checks hCG, alpha-fetoprotein (AFP), and a type of estrogen (unconjugated estriol, or uE3). The quad screen checks these substances and the level of the hormone inhibin A. The levels of these substances-along with a woman's age and other factors-help the doctor figure out the chance that the baby may have certain problems or birth defects.

Pregnancy: Should I Have Screening Tests for Birth Defects?

In some cases, screening tests are combined in the first trimester to look for Down syndrome. This screening test uses an ultrasound to measure the thickness of the skin at the back of the fetus's neck (nuchal translucency). It also includes a blood test for the levels hCG and a protein called pregnancy-associated plasma protein A (PAPP-A). This test works about as well as the second-trimester maternal serum quad screening. footnote 1

HCG urine tests

HCG urine tests are usually used for regular pregnancy testing. The test does not measure the exact amount of hCG, but it shows if hCG is present. Home versions of this test are easy to find and buy.

HCG Qualitative, Pregnancy Serum

Human Chorionic Gonadotropin, Serum Qualitative, Beta Subunit Human Chorionic Gonadotropin, Serum Qualitative, hCG, Qualitative Serum (Pregnancy Test), Antrim #17279, EPIC: LAB5067, SOFT: HCGS2


Serum qualitative hCG specimens should ONLY be collected from EC and inpatients at the Troy Hospital Campus. Specimens should NOT be collected at any other Beaumont Laboratory drawsite or Outreach office.

Specimen Collection Criteria

Collect: One Gold-top SST tube. (Minimum Whole Blood: 4.0 mL)

Contact the Laboratory for acceptability of other tube types.

  • Rejection Criteria
  • Plasma specimens.
  • Red-top tubes with serum not separated from cells within two hours of collection.


Specimen Stability for Testing:

  • Centrifuged SST Tubes and Microtainers® with Separator Gel
  • Room Temperature (20-26°C or 68-78.8°F): 2 hours
  • Refrigerated (2-8°C or 36-46°F): 48 hours
  • Frozen (-20°C/-4°F or below): Unacceptable
  • Red-top Tubes and Microtainers® without Separator Gel
  • Room Temperature (20-25°C or 68-77°F): 2 hours
  • Refrigerated (2-8°C or 36-46°F): Unacceptable
  • Frozen (-20°C/-4°F or below): Unacceptable
  • Serum Specimens (Pour-Overs)
  • Room Temperature (20-26°C or 68-78.8°F): 2 hours
  • Refrigerated (2-8°C or 36-46°F): 48 hours
  • Frozen (-20°C/-4°F or below): 1 year
  • Specimen Storage in Department Prior to Disposal:
  • Refrigerated (2-8°C or 36-46°F): 7 days

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