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Serum Protein Electrophoresis

What is it?

Serum protein electrophoresis (e-lek-tro for-e-esis) or "SPEP" is a blood test. The test measures the amount of albumin (al-bew-min) and globulins (glah-bew-lins) in your blood. Albumin and globulins are types of protein. A small amount of your blood is put on a special plate. An electric current is sent through the plate. This causes the albumin and globulins to move apart. After several minutes the plate is put in a machine that measures the amount of each fraction.

Why do I need it?

If you have an abnormal serum total protein or have certain symptoms your caregiver may want you to have an SPEP. Some diseases and nutrition disorders change the expected amounts of the protein fractions. Your caregiver may suspect that you have a problem with the proteins in your blood. Myeloma (mi-uh-lo-muh) is one example of such a problem. Checking and following the SPEP helps your caregiver monitor your condition.

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. Ask your caregivers if you should wait until the blood test to take your normal medicines.

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 on the site for a few minutes to help stop the bleeding. Tape may then be put over the cotton on your arm.

What do 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.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.