A quantitative human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) test measures the specific level of HCG in the blood. HCG is a hormone produced during pregnancy.
Blood is typically drawn from a vein, usually from the inside of the elbow or the back of the hand. The site is cleaned with germ-killing medicine (antiseptic). The health care provider wraps an elastic band around the upper arm to apply pressure to the area and make the vein swell with blood.
Next, the health care provider gently inserts a needle into the vein. The blood collects into an airtight vial or tube attached to the needle. The elastic band is removed from your arm.
Once the blood has been collected, the needle is removed, and the puncture site is covered to stop any bleeding.
In infants or young children, a sharp tool called a lancet may be used to puncture the skin and make it bleed. The blood collects into a small glass tube called a pipette, or onto a slide or test strip. A bandage may be placed over the area if there is any bleeding.
No special preparation is necessary.
When the needle is inserted to draw blood, some people feel moderate pain, while others feel only a prick or stinging sensation. Afterward, there may be some throbbing.
HCG appears in the blood and urine of pregnant women as early as 10 days after conception. Quantitative HCG measurements can help to diagnose abnormal preqnancies, such as ectopic pregnancies, molar pregnancies, and those that will miscarry. It is also used as part of a screening test for Down Syndrome.
This test is also done to diagnose abnormal conditions unrelated to pregnancy that can raise HCG levels.
HCG levels rise rapidly during the first trimester of pregnancy and then slightly decline.
Higher-than-normal levels may indicate:
Lower-than-normal levels may indicate:
There is very little risk involved with having your blood taken. Veins and arteries vary in size from one patient to another and from one side of the body to the other. Taking blood from some people may be more difficult than from others.
Other risks associated with having blood drawn are slight but may include:
Drugs that can decrease HCG measurements include diuretics and promethazine.
Drugs that can increase HCG measurements include anticonvulsants, anti-parkinsonian drugs, phenothiazine, and promethazine.
Serial beta HCG; Repeat quantitative beta HCG; Human chorionic gonadotrophin blood test - quantitative; Beta-HCG blood test - quantitative; Pregnancy test - blood - quantitative