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.
IEP - serum; Immunoglobulin electrophoresis - blood; Gamma globulin electrophoresis; Serum immunoglobulin electrophoresis
How the Test is Performed
A blood sample is needed. For information on how this is done, see: Venipuncture
How to Prepare 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 the Test is 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This test has mostly been replaced by another test called immunofixation.
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:
Some people have monoclonal immunoglobulins, but do not have cancer. This is called monoclonal gammopathy of unknown significance, or MGUS.
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)
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.
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. Call 911
for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they
do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997-A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
The Agency for Health Care Administration (Agency) and this website do not claim the information on, or referred to by, this site is error free. This site may include links to websites of other government agencies or private groups. Our Agency and this website do not control such sites and are not responsible for their content. Reference to or links to any other group, product, service, or information does not mean our Agency or this website approves of that group, product, service, or information.
Additionally, while health information provided through this website may be a valuable resource for the public, it is not designed to offer medical advice. Talk with your doctor about medical care questions you may have.