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Definition:

This type of human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) test measures the specific level of HCG in the urine. HCG is a hormone produced during pregnancy.

See also:



Alternative Names:

Beta-HCG - urine; Human chorionic gonadotropin - urine



How the test is performed:

As you urinate, collect a urine sample in a special (sterile) cup. Home pregnancy tests require the test strip to be dipped into the urine sample or passed through the urine stream while urinating. Carefully follow package directions.

Usually a first-morning sample (the first time you urinate in the morning) is preferred, because it is the most concentrated.



How to prepare for the test:

No special preparation is needed.



How the test will feel:

The test involves normal urination into a cup or onto a stick.



Why the test is performed:

Urine HCG tests are a common method of determining if a woman is pregnant. The best time to test for pregnancy at home is after you miss your period.



Normal Values:
  • The test is negative if you are not pregnant.
  • The test is positive if you are pregnant.

A pregnancy test, including a properly performed home pregnancy test, is considered to be about 98% accurate. Positive results are more likely to be accurate than negative results. When the test is negative but pregnancy is still suspected, the test should be repeated in 1 week.



What the risks are:

There are essentially no risks (except for "false positive" or "false negative" results).



Special considerations:

Drugs that can decrease HCG measurements include diuretics and promethazine.

Drugs that can increase HCG measurements include anticonvulsants, anti-parkinsonian drugs, phenothiazine, and promethazine.



References:

Webster RA. Reproductive function and pregnancy. In: McPherson RA, Pincus MR, eds. Henry's Clinical Diagnosis and Management by Laboratory Methods. 21st ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2006:chap 25.

Morrison LJ. General approach to the pregnancy patient. In: Marx J, ed. Rosen’s Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 6th ed. St Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2006:chap 176.




Review Date: 10/28/2008
Reviewed By: Linda Vorvick, MD, Seattle Site Coordinator, Lecturer, Pathophysiology, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington School of Medicine; and Susan Storck, MD, FACOG, Chief, Eastside Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound, Redmond, Washington; Clinical Teaching Faculty, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

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. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. 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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