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Human Chorionic Gonadotropin Test

Human Chorionic Gonadotropin Test

What is being tested?

Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) is a hormone produced by the placenta of a pregnant woman. Early in pregnancy, the level of hCG increases in the blood and is eliminated in the urine. A pregnancy test detects hCG in the blood or urine and confirms or rules out pregnancy.

During the early weeks of pregnancy, hCG is important in maintaining function of the corpus luteum. Production of hCG increases steadily during the first...

What is an hCG urine test?

A human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) urine test is a pregnancy test. A pregnant woman’s placenta produces hCG, also called the pregnancy hormone. If you’re pregnant, the test can usually detect this hormone in your urine about 10 days after your first missed period. This is when the fertilized egg attaches to the uterine wall.

During the first 8 to 10 weeks of pregnancy, hCG levels normally increase very rapidly. These levels reach their peak at about the 10th week of pregnancy, and then they gradually decline until delivery.

This type of urine test is commonly sold in kits that you can use at home. It’s often is referred to as a home pregnancy test.

Should My HCG Level Be Checked Routinely?

It is not common for doctors to routinely check your hCG levels unless you are showing signs of a potential problem.

A health care provider may recheck your levels if you are bleeding, experiencing severe cramping, or have a history of miscarriage.

How is the Specimen Collected for Human Chorionic Gonadotropin Test?

Following is the specimen collection process for Human Chorionic Gonadotropin Test:

Sample required: Most commonly urine is collected; sometimes, blood may also be used.

Process

  • Urination into a sterile container for collecting urine sample
  • Insertion of a needle into an arm vein for blood sample
  • Preparation required: No special preparation is needed prior to the test.
  • Interpretation

    After delivery, miscarriage, or pregnancy termination, human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) falls with a half-life of 24 to 36 hours, until prepregnancy levels are reached. An absent or significantly slower decline is seen in patients with retained products of conception.

    Gestational trophoblastic disease (GTD) is associated with very considerable elevations of hCG, usually above 2 multiples of the medians for gestational age persisting or even rising beyond the first trimester.

    Serum hCG levels are elevated in approximately 40% to 50% of patients with nonseminomatous testicular cancer and 20% to 40% of patients with seminoma. Markedly elevated levels of hCG (>5,000 IU/L) are uncommon in patients with pure seminoma and indicate the presence of a mixed testicular cancer.

    Ovarian germ cell tumors (approximately 10% of ovarian tumors) display elevated hCG levels in 20% to 50% of cases. Teratomas in children may overproduce hCG, even when benign, resulting in precocious pseudopuberty. Levels may be elevated to similar levels as seen in testicular cancer.

    Cautions

    False-elevations (called phantom human chorionic gonadotropin: hCG) may occur with patients who have human antianimal or heterophilic antibodies.

    Some specimens may not dilute linearly due to abnormal forms of hCG.

    Elevated hCG concentrations not associated with pregnancy are found in patients with other diseases such as tumors of the germ cells, ovaries, bladder, pancreas, stomach, lungs, and liver. This test is not intended to detect or monitor tumors or gestational trophoblastic disease.

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