Hemoglobin is a protein found in red blood cells that delivers oxygen from the lungs to each and every area of the body. There are various types of hemoglobin, and hemoglobin electrophoresis is a diagnostic test that determines the different types of hemoglobin present in the blood and detects any abnormal types.
During a hemoglobin electrophoresis test, an electric current is applied to a blood sample. This procedure divides hemoglobin into its normal and abnormal types, enabling individual measurements of each type.
Other names: hemoglobin evaluation, Hb electrophoresis, Hb ELP, hemoglobinopathy evaluation, hemoglobin fractionation, and sickle cell screen.
What is it used for
Hemoglobin electrophoresis determines hemoglobin levels and checks for aberrant hemoglobin types. It is most commonly used to help with the identification of anemia,sickle cell disease, and other hemoglobin abnormalities.
Why do I need hemoglobin electrophoresis?
If you experience symptoms of a hemoglobin problem, you should be tested. The symptoms include:
If you have recently given birth, the newborn will be tested as part of newborn screening. The screening checks for a number of conditions. Several of these illnesses are treatable if detected early.
What happens during hemoglobin electrophoresis?
A healthcare professional will use a tiny needle to take blood from a vein in the arm. After needle insertion, a small amount of blood will be collected. You may feel a minor sting when the needle is inserted or removed. This normally takes less than five minutes.
A healthcare expert will clean the baby's heel with alcohol and jab the heel with a little needle to test him or her. The provider will take a few drops of blood and apply a bandage to the wound.
How to prepare for the test?
A hemoglobin electrophoresis test requires no specific preparation.
Are there any risks to hemoglobin electrophoresis?
A blood test poses very little risk. Individuals may experience pain or bruising where the needle was inserted, but most symptoms will subside soon.
When the heel is probed, the baby may feel a slight pinch, and a small bruise may emerge. This should go quickly.
What do the results mean?
The results will show the types of hemoglobin discovered and the levels. Too high or too low hemoglobin levels may indicate:
- Thalassemia is a disorder that impairs hemoglobin synthesis. The severity of the symptoms varies.
- Hemoglobin C disease, a disorder that causes mild anemia as well as an enlarged spleen and joint pain
- Sickle cell trait and Sickle cell disease
- Hemoglobin S-C disease, a disease that causes mild to moderate sickle cell disease
The severity of a specific disorder can be determined through the results of the hemoglobin electrophoresis test. It is recommended to discuss treatment options with a healthcare provider if you or your child has been diagnosed with a hemoglobin disorder. The hemoglobin electrophoresis test results are usually compared to other tests like a complete blood count and a blood smear.
Additional information about hemoglobin electrophoresis
If there's a risk of having a child with an inherited hemoglobin disorder, it is recommended to consult with a genetic counselor who is a specialist in genetics and genetic testing. They can provide you with the necessary information to comprehend the disorder and determine the likelihood of passing it on to your child.