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Hcg Meaning

Hcg Meaning

What is 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 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 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.

The Real Meaning of Beta hCG Levels

Certainly the most anticipated lab test in a fertility clinic is a human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) level. While everyone knows that having a positive beta hCG is the ultimate prize, it is far more difficult to truly understand what the test is really telling you.

First, what does a positive (+) beta hCG test really mean? Here we must differentiate between a urine test and a blood pregnancy test. The only real difference is the sensitivity of the test, meaning how high does the hCG level actually have to be to get detected. On a home pregnancy test, the lowest level routinely detected varies between 20-30 mIU/ml. As these levels are achieved fairly early in pregnancy – in fact by the time the expected period is missed – the levels should be above this detection level.

A blood test, on the other hand, is a more vigorous tool and can detect hCG very accurately as low as 5 mIU/ml. Levels below 5 can be detected, but the accuracy of these evaluations suffers greatly. These levels can be detected even before the missed period, hence their usage in IVF cycles. One thing that must be understood here is that these tests cannot distinguish between hCG created by the pregnancy or that given by injection. One must therefore be careful interpreting levels that have been drawn close to the time of the hCG trigger of ovulation/maturity. Twelve days is generally enough time to allow what was injected to be completely metabolized and cleared.

Second, how high must the beta hCG level be before we can actually expect to see something on ultrasound? Once upon a time, when the world was young and I was fresh out of training, we did primarily abdominal scanning. The hCG level most commensurate with seeing the pregnancy was very high, about 6500 mIU/ml. Since the advent of the trans vaginal probe and the great increase in the ability to see things in the uterus, this “U/S detectable” level decreases to about 1000 mIU/ml.

Human Chorionic Gonadotropin Pregnancy Test

Pregnancy tests detect the hormone, human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). After an egg is fertilized, the developing embryo attaches to the uterine lining approximately six to twelve days after ovulation. Following implantation, hCG is produced by trophoblastic cells that reside in the outer layer of the embryo. It takes several days for hCG to be detectable in blood or urine. Thereafter, hCG production increases very rapidly with serum concentrations doubling every 1-1.5 days during the first 8 to 10 weeks of pregnancy.

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