Immunoelectrophoresis - blood
IEP - serum; Immunoglobulin electrophoresis - blood; Gamma globulin electrophoresis; Serum immunoglobulin electrophoresis; Amyloidosis - electrophoresis serum; Multiple myeloma - serum electrophoresis; Waldenström - serum electrophoresis
Serum immunoelectrophoresis is a lab test that measures proteins called immunoglobulins in the blood. Immunoglobulins are proteins that function as antibodies, which fight infection. There are many types of immunoglobulins that fight different types of infections. Some immunoglobulins can be abnormal and may be due to cancer.
Immunoglobulins can also be measured in the urine.
How the Test is Performed
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 antibodies when certain cancers and other disorders are present or suspected.
A normal (negative) result means that the blood sample had normal types of immunoglobulins. The level of one immunoglobulin was not higher than any other.
What Abnormal Results Mean
Abnormal results may be due to:
- Amyloidosis (buildup of abnormal proteins in tissues and organs)
- Leukemia or Waldenström macroglobulinemia (types of white blood cell cancers)
- Lymphoma (cancer of the lymph tissue)
- Monoclonal gammopathy of unknown significance (MGUS)
- Multiple myeloma (a type of blood cancer)
- Other cancers
There is little risk involved with having your blood taken. Veins and arteries vary in size from one person 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 lightheaded
- Multiple punctures to locate veins
- Hematoma (blood accumulating under the skin)
- Infection (a slight risk any time the skin is broken)
Aoyagi K, Ashihara Y, Kasahara Y. Immunoassays and immunochemistry. In: McPherson RA, Pincus MR, eds. Henry's Clinical Diagnosis and Management by Laboratory Methods. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2022:chap 45.
Park JY, Patel K. Immunochemical techniques. In: Rifai N, Chiu RWK, Young I, Burnham CAD, Wittwer CT, eds. Tietz Textbook of Laboratory Medicine. 7th ed. St Louis, MO: Elsevier; 2023:chap 26.
Last reviewed on: 4/29/2022
Reviewed by: Todd Gersten, MD, Hematology/Oncology, Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute, Wellington, FL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David C. Dugdale, MD, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.