Hemoglobin Electrophoresis

What is it?

Hemoglobin (HE-moh-gloh-bin) electrophoresis (ee-lek-troh-fo-REE-sis) is a blood test to find hemoglobin that is not normal. Hemoglobin is the part of red blood cells (RBCs) that has iron and carries oxygen. A small amount of your blood is put on a special plate. An electric current is sent through the plate. This causes the different types of hemoglobin to move apart. Caregivers can then see if you have an abnormal hemoglobin.

Why do I need it?

You may need this test if you have certain diseases, such as sickle cell disease. You may need it if you carry a trait (feature) for certain diseases. You may need this test if you have anemia. Anemia means there is less hemoglobin in the RBCs than normal. Your anemia may be the result of not eating well, or the result of hemolysis (he-MOL-i-sis). In hemolysis the RBCs break apart and spill their hemoglobin into the blood stream. You may also have a higher than normal level of one type of hemoglobin that may run in your family, but not cause disease.

How do I get ready for the test?

Your caregivers will tell you when to have your blood test done. The blood test may be done before or after eating.

How is the specimen collected?

A caregiver will put a wide rubber strap around your arm and tighten it. Your skin will be cleaned with alcohol. A small needle attached to a special test tube will be put into a vein in your arm or hand. The tube has suction to pull the blood into it. When the tube is full, the rubber strap, needle and tube are removed. The caregiver will press a piece of cotton where the needle was removed. You may be asked to hold the cotton in place for a few minutes to help stop the bleeding. Tape may then be put over the cotton on your arm.

What should I do after the test?

You may remove the tape and cotton in about 20 to 30 minutes. Call your caregiver to get the results of your test. Your caregiver will explain what your test results mean for you. Follow the instructions of your caregiver.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. To help with this plan, you must learn about your lab tests. You can then discuss the results with your caregivers. Work with them to decide what care may be used to treat you. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

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