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Serum globulin electrophoresis

The serum globulin electrophoresis test measures the levels of proteins called globulins in the fluid part of a blood sample. This fluid is called serum.

How the Test is Performed

A blood sample is needed.

In the lab, the technician places the blood sample on special paper and applies an electric current. The proteins move on the paper and form bands that show the amount of each protein.

How to Prepare for the Test

You may be asked not to eat or drink (fast) for 4 hours before this test.

Certain medicines may affect the results of this test. Your health care provider will tell you if you need to stop taking any medicines. Do not stop any medicine before talking to your provider.

Medicines that can affect the test results include:

  • Chlorpromazine
  • Corticosteroids
  • Phenacemide
  • Salicylates
  • Some kinds of antibiotics
  • Tolbutamide

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 a slight bruise. This soon goes away.

Why the Test is Performed

This test is done to look at globulin proteins in the blood. Identifying the types of globulins can help diagnose certain medical problems.

Globulins are roughly divided into 3 groups: alpha, beta, and gamma globulins. Gamma globulines include various types of antibodies such as immunoglobulins (Ig) M, G, and A.

Certain diseases are associated with producing too many immunoglobulins. For example, Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia is a cancer of certain white blood cells. It is linked with producing too many IgM antibodies.

Normal Results

Normal value ranges are:

  • Serum globulin: 2.0 to 3.5 g/dL (grams per deciliter)
  • IgM component: 75 to 300 mg/dL (milligrams per deciliter)
  • IgG component: 650 to 1850 mg/dL
  • IgA component: 90 to 350 mg/dL

Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Some labs use different measurements or test different samples. Talk to your provider about the meaning of your specific test results.

What Abnormal Results Mean

Increased gamma globulin proteins may indicate:

Risks

There is very little risk involved with having your blood taken. Veins and arteries vary in size from 1 person to another, and from 1 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 lightheaded
  • Hematoma (blood buildup under the skin)
  • Infection (a slight risk any time the skin is broken)

Alternative Names

Globulin electrophoresis; Waldenstrom - serum globulin

Images

References

Dominiczak MH, Fraser WD. Blood and plasma proteins. In: Baynes JW, Dominiczak MH, eds. Medical Biochemistry. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:chap 4.

Rajkumar SV. Plasma cell disorders. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 187.

Update Date 2/11/2016

Updated by: Todd Gersten, MD, Hematology/Oncology, Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute, Wellington, FL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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