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Immunofixation (Blood)

Does this test have other names?

IFE, immunofixation electrophoresis

What is this test?

This blood test finds out if you are abnormally making or losing protein or whether you are having problems absorbing protein.

This test helps diagnose or monitor conditions linked to health problems like the blood cancer multiple myeloma.

For this test, your blood sample goes through a complex procedure called electrophoresis to isolate the different proteins in it. A health care provider then uses a dye to bind to the proteins and stain them.

Immunofixation "fixes" certain proteins into place with antibodies and then washes away the others before staining them. On a computer screen, these proteins form a pattern of bands. Peaks and valleys in the bands may mean that you may be making too many or too few of certain proteins. Also, the band pattern is specific for certain diseases.

Why do I need this test?

You may need this test if you have symptoms of multiple myeloma, multiple sclerosis, or other problems that affect how the proteins in your blood work.

You may also have the test if you have serious nutritional problems, such as problems absorbing protein from the food that you eat.

What other tests might I have along with this test?

Your doctor may order other tests, such as a bone marrow biopsy, if he or she suspects that you have multiple myeloma.

What do my test results mean?

Many things may affect your lab test results. These include the method each lab uses to do the test. Even if your test results are different from the normal value, you may not have a problem. To learn what the results mean for you, talk with your health care provider.

Results are given in grams per deciliter (g/dL). Normal values of various proteins in adults are:

  • Total protein: 6.4 to 8.3 g/dL

  • Albumin:  3.5 to 5 g/dL

  • Globulin:  2.3 to 3.4 g/dL

  • Alpha-1 globulin:  0.1 to 0.3 g/dL

  • Alpha-2 globulin: 0.6 to 1 g/dL

  • Beta globulin: 0.7 to 1.1 g/dL

Normal values of total protein for children are:

  • Premature infants: 4.2 to 7.6 g/dL

  • Newborns: 4.6 to 7.4 g/dL

  • Infants: 6 to 6.7 g/dL

  • Children: 6.2 to 8 g/dL

Normal ranges for albumin in children are:

  • Premature infants: 3 to 4.2 g/dL

  • Newborns: 3.5 to 5.4 g/dL

  • Infants: 4.4 to 5.4 g/dL

  • Children: 4 to 5.9 g/dL

If your results show that you have monoclonal proteins, called M-proteins, it may mean that you have multiple myeloma. Your doctor will order other tests to confirm your diagnosis.

How is this test done?

The test requires a blood sample, which is drawn through a needle from a vein in your arm.

Does this test pose any risks?

Taking a blood sample with a needle carries risks that include bleeding, infection, bruising, or feeling dizzy. When the needle pricks your arm, you may feel a slight stinging sensation or pain. Afterward, the site may be slightly sore.

What might affect my test results?

Other factors aren't likely to affect your results.

How do I get ready for this test?

You don't need to prepare for this test.