What Is Electrophoresis?

Serum Protein Electrophoresis

A serum protein electrophoresis test is a method of separating proteins based on their physical properties. More specifically, serum protein electrophoresis (also known as an SPEP) measures immunoglobulins in the blood and can locate abnormal proteins known as monoclonal immunoglobulins. Locating these monoclonal immunoglobulins in the blood may be the first step in the diagnosis of multiple myeloma.

How is the procedure conducted?

Electrophoresis is conducted by the fluid part of a blood sample (serm) on a medium such as a buffer-filled box. Laboratory technicians then apply an electrical charge. This charge causes proteins in the blood to move within the medium and form bands that show the differing amounts of each protein. In other words, the net charge as well as the size and shape of the protein are typically used in differentiating various serum proteins.

How is myeloma diagnosed from serum protein electrophoresis?

If monoclonal immunoglobulins are identified from a serum protein electrophoresis, it indicates that the patient may have multiple myeloma. For a more accurate diagnosis, doctors will typically ask patients to receive electrophoresis in conjunction with other tests, such as a urine test or bone marrow test.