A hemoglobin electrophoresis test is a blood test done to check the different types of hemoglobin in the blood. Hemoglobin is the substance in red blood cells that carries oxygen. See a picture of hemoglobin.
The most common types of normal hemoglobin are:
More than 400 different types of abnormal hemoglobin have been found, but the most common are:
Hemoglobin S and hemoglobin C are the most common types of abnormal hemoglobins that may be found by an electrophoresis test.
Electrophoresis uses an electrical current to separate normal and abnormal types of hemoglobin in the blood. Hemoglobin types have different electrical charges and move at different speeds. The amount of each hemoglobin type in the current is measured.
An abnormal amount of normal hemoglobin or an abnormal type of hemoglobin in the blood may mean that a disease is present. Abnormal hemoglobin types may be present without any other symptoms, may cause mild diseases that do not have symptoms, or cause diseases that can be life-threatening. For example, hemoglobin S is found in sickle cell disease, which is a serious abnormality of the blood and causes serious problems.
Hemoglobin electrophoresis is done to:
Tell your doctor if you are getting iron therapy for iron deficiency anemia.
The health professional drawing blood will:
The blood sample is taken from a vein in your arm. An elastic band is wrapped around your upper arm. It may feel tight. You may feel nothing at all from the needle, or you may feel a quick sting or pinch.
There is very little chance of a problem from having blood sample taken from a vein.
A hemoglobin electrophoresis test is a blood test done to check the different types of hemoglobin in the blood. Results are ready in several days.
The normal values listed here—called a reference range—are just a guide. These ranges vary from lab to lab, and your lab may have a different range for what’s normal. Your lab report should contain the range your lab uses. Also, your doctor will evaluate your results based on your health and other factors. This means that a value that falls outside the normal values listed here may still be normal for you or your lab.
96.5%–98.5% of total hemoglobin or 0.96–0.985 mass fraction
1.5%–3.5% of total hemoglobin or 0.015–0.035 mass fraction
0%–1% of total hemoglobin or 0–0.01 mass fraction
Abnormal hemoglobin types:
Reasons you may not be able to have the test or why the results may not be helpful include:
If you are planning to have children and are found to have abnormal types of hemoglobin in your blood, you might consider genetic counseling. This can help you and your partner see how likely you are to have children with certain inherited forms of anemia (such as sickle cell disease or thalassemia).
Other Works Consulted
- Chernecky CC, Berger BJ (2008). Laboratory Tests and Diagnostic Procedures, 5th ed. St. Louis: Saunders.
- Fischbach FT, Dunning MB III, eds. (2009). Manual of Laboratory and Diagnostic Tests, 8th ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
- Pagana KD, Pagana TJ (2010). Mosby’s Manual of Diagnostic and Laboratory Tests, 4th ed. St. Louis: Mosby Elsevier.
|Primary Medical Reviewer||E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine|
|Specialist Medical Reviewer||Joseph O'Donnell, MD - Hematology, Oncology|
|Last Revised||July 29, 2010|
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