Identifying the Pregnant Patient: There's More to Know than 'Yes' or 'No'


Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) is used as a biomarker to determine a woman’s pregnancy status. The detection of hCG is commonly done by the use of qualitative hCG tests using urine or serum. While both sample types can be used, urine is often preferred due to its ability to be analyzed at the point-of-care. Urine hCG testing is plagued by several limitations yet these are often not appreciated by clinical care providers and laboratorians. This presentation will describe the limitations of qualitative urine and serum hCG tests and explain the causes of erroneous results. It will also describe the effect that qualitative hCG tests have on turnaround time and patient length of stay.

Originally presented on April 30, 2015, in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Lecture Presenter

David G. Grenache, PhD

David G. Grenache, PhD

Medical Director, Special Chemistry Laboratory
ARUP Laboratories
Co-Director, Electrophoresis and Manual Endocrinology Laboratory
ARUP Laboratories
Professor of Pathology
University of Utah School of Medicine

Dr. Grenache is the medical director of the Special Chemistry Laboratory, a co-director of the Electrophoresis and Manual Endocrinology Laboratory, and the chief medical director of clinical chemistry at ARUP Laboratories. He is a professor of pathology at the University of Utah School of Medicine. Dr. Grenache earned his PhD in biomedical sciences from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Worcester, MA and completed his postdoctoral training in clinical chemistry at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, MO. Dr. Grenache is a fellow in the National Academy of Clinical Biochemistry and is board certified in clinical chemistry by the American Board of Clinical Chemistry. His research interests include reproductive biochemistry and emerging biomarkers of disease.


After this presentation, participants will be able to:

  • Describe the biochemistry and function of hCG.
  • Explain the limitations of qualitative point-of-care hCG tests and causes of erroneous results.
  • Evaluate the effect that qualitative point-of-care hCG tests have on turnaround time and patient length of stay.

Sponsored by:

University of Utah School of Medicine, Department of Pathology, and ARUP Laboratories