HCG blood test - qualitative
A qualitative HCG blood test checks if there is a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin in your blood. HCG is a hormone produced in the body during pregnancy.
Other HCG tests include:
- HCG urine test
- Quantitative pregnancy test (checks specific level of HCG in your blood)
Beta-HCG in blood serum - qualitative; Human chorionic gonadotrophin - serum - qualitative; Pregnancy test - blood - qualitative; Serum HCG - qualitative; HCG in blood serum - qualitative
How the Test is Performed
A blood sample is needed. This is usually taken from a vein. The procedure is called a venipuncture.
How to Prepare for the Test
No special preparation is necessary.
When the needle is inserted to draw blood, some people feel moderate pain. Others feel only a prick or stinging. Afterward, there may be some throbbing.
Why the Test is Performed
Most often, this test is performed to determine if you are pregnant. HCG level in the blood may also be high in women with certain types of ovarian tumors or in men with testicular tumors.
- The test is negative if you are not pregnant.
- The test is positive if you are pregnant.
What Abnormal Results Mean
If your blood HCG is positive and you do not have a pregnancy properly implanted in the uterus, it may indicate:
- Ectopic pregnancy
- Testicular cancer (in men)
- Trophoblastic tumor
- Hydatidiform mole
- Ovarian cancer
There is very little risk in having your blood taken. Veins and arteries vary in size from one person 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 of having blood drawn are slight but may include:
- Excessive bleeding
- Fainting or feeling light-headed
- Blood accumulating under the skin (hematoma)
- Infection (a slight risk any time the skin is broken)
False positive tests may occur when certain hormones are increased, such as after menopause or when taking hormone supplements.
A pregnancy test is considered to be very accurate. When the test is negative but pregnancy is still suspected, the test should be repeated in 1 week.
Lee P, Pincus MR, McPherson RA. Diagnosis and management of cancer using serologic tumor markers. In: McPherson RA, Pincus MR, eds. Henry's Clinical Diagnosis and Management by Laboratory Methods. 22nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 74.
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.
Reviewed By: Cynthia D. White, MD, Fellow American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Group Health Cooperative, Bellevue, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.