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    Pregnancy test

    A pregnancy test measures a hormone in the bodycalled human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG). HCG is a hormone produced during pregnancy. It appears in the blood and urine of pregnant women as early as 10 days after conception.

    How the Test is Performed

    A pregnancy test isdone using blood or urine. There are two types of blood tests:

    • Qualitative, which measures whether the HCG hormone is present
    • Quantitative, which measures how much HCG is present

    The blood test is done by drawing a single tube of blood and sending it to a laboratory. You may wait anywhere from a few hours to more than a day to get the results.

    The urine HCG test is usually performed by placing a drop of urine on a prepared chemical strip. It takes 1-2 minutes for a result.

    How the Test Will Feel

    For the urine test, you urinate into a cup.

    For theblood test, the health care provider uses a needle and syringe todraw blood from your vein into a tube. Any discomfort you might feel from the blood draw will only last a few seconds.

    Why the Test is Performed

    This testis done to:

    • Determine if you are pregnant.
    • Diagnose abnormal conditions that can raise HCG levels.
    • Watch the development of the pregnancy during the first2 months (quantitative test only).

    Normal Results

    HCG level rises rapidly during the first trimester of pregnancy and then slightly declines.

    What Abnormal Results Mean

    HCG level should almost double every 48 hours in the beginning of a pregnancy. HCG level that does not rise appropriately may indicate a problem with your pregnancy. Problemsrelatedto an abnormally rising HCG level include miscarriage and ectopic (tubal) pregnancy.

    An extremely high level of HCG may suggest a molar pregnancy or more than one fetus -- for example, twins.

    Your health care provider willdiscuss themeaning of your HCG level with you.

    Considerations

    Urine pregnancy tests will only be positive when you haveenough HCG in your blood. If you are very early in your pregnancy, and the HCG level is below 25-50 mIU/mL, the test will be negative. The level is higher if your urine is more concentrated. So a good time totest iswhen you first get up in the morning.

    If you think you are pregnant, repeat the pregnancy test at home or at your health care provider's office.

    References

    Morrison LJ. General approach to the pregnant patient. In: Marx JA, Hockberger RS, Walls RM, et al, eds. Rosen’s Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2009:chap 175.

    Webster RA. Reproductive function and pregnancy. In: McPherson RA, Pincus MR, eds. Henry's Clinical Diagnosis and Management by Laboratory Methods. 22nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 25.

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    • Pregnancy test

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      • Pregnancy test

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      A Closer Look

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        Tests for Pregnancy test

        Review Date: 11/8/2012

        Reviewed By: Susan Storck, MD, FACOG, Chief, Eastside Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound, Bellevue, Washington; Clinical Teaching Faculty, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.

        The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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