Immunoelectrophoresis - blood

Serum immunoelectrophoresis is a lab test that measures proteins called immunoglobulins in the blood. There are many types of immunoglobulins. Some can be abnormal and due to cancer.

Immunoglobulins can also be measured in the urine.

How is the Test Performed?

A blood sample is needed. For information on how this is done, see: Venipuncture

Preparation for the Test

There is no special preparation for this test.

How the Test will Feel

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 or slight bruising. This soon goes away.

Why is the Test Performed?

This test is most often used to check the levels of certain immunoglobulins (or antibodies) associated with multiple myeloma and Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia.

This test has mostly been replaced by another test called immunofixation.

Normal Results for Immunoelectrophoresis - blood

A normal (negative) result means that a normal variety of immunoglobulins were seen in the blood sample. The level of one immunoglobulin was not higher than any other.

What Abnormal Results Mean

Abnormal results may be due to certain types of cancer such as multiple myeloma or chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

Abnormal results may also be due to:

  • Amyloidosis
  • Lymphoma

Some people have monoclonal immunoglobulins, but do not have cancer. This is called monoclonal gammopathy of unknown significance, or MGUS.

Immunoelectrophoresis - blood Risks

There is very little risk involved with having your blood taken. Veins and arteries vary in size from one patient 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 associated with having blood drawn are slight but may include:

  • Excessive bleeding
  • Fainting or feeling light-headed
  • Hematoma (blood accumulating under the skin)
  • Infection (a slight risk any time the skin is broken)

References

McPherson RA, Massey HD. Laboratory evaluation of immunoglobulin function and humoral immunity. In: McPherson RA, Pincus MR, eds. Henry's Clinical Diagnosis and Management by Laboratory Methods. 22nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 46.

Related Images

Review Date: 5/29/2014
Reviewed By: Yi-Bin Chen, MD, Leukemia/Bone Marrow Transplant Program, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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- 2014 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
Hide
(web2)