Immunofixation by Electrophoresis (Urine)
Does this test have other names?
Immunofixation electrophoresis, IFE
What is this test?
This test separates and measures proteins in your urine. It looks for an abnormal
protein called monoclonal protein, or M-protein.
An M-protein is a type of abnormal immunoglobulin made by plasma cells, a kind of
white blood cell. Your body uses immunoglobulins to make antibodies that help attack
invaders such as germs. If your body makes M-protein, it may mean that you have one
of several cancers, such as multiple myeloma, or another serious health problem.
This test uses an electric current to push proteins in a urine sample through a special
gel. This is the electrophoresis portion. The lab treats the gel to keep only certain
proteins. This is the immunofixation portion. A stain makes different proteins show
up as bands, or peaks.
Why do I need this test?
You might have this test if your healthcare provider suspects that you have one of
several medical problems, including multiple myeloma, primary amyloidosis, or Waldenstrom
Multiple myeloma is a type of cancer that develops when abnormal plasma cells build
up in bone marrow. As a result, many bones develop tumors, and the bone marrow can't
do its normal job, which is to make different blood cells. Symptoms of multiple myeloma
Primary amyloidosis develops when a substance called amyloid gathers in clumps in
your organs. Amyloid is made of fragments of antibody protein. When amyloid gathers
in organs, such as the kidneys, lungs, heart, or brain, it can damage them. Sometimes
people have both multiple myeloma and primary amyloidosis.
Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia is a rare type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, which is a kind
of cancer. It's caused by high levels of monoclonal immunoglobulin M, or IgM. Symptoms
What other tests might I have along with this test?
Your healthcare provider may recommend other tests to help determine whether you have
a health problem. These test may include:
Analysis of a sample of bone marrow
Biopsy of tissue from your body to check for signs of amyloidosis
X-rays to check your bones
Urine test to check for unusual levels of protein
Complete blood count, or CBC, that includes measuring the number of different cells
in your blood
Measurement of levels of immunoglobulins in your blood
CT scans to look at your lymph nodes, spleen, and liver
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 healthcare
How is this test done?
This test commonly requires a 24-hour urine sample. To do this test, you will need
to collect all the urine you pass during a 24-hour period. You will collect it in
a container that your healthcare provider or the lab gives you.
Does this test pose any risks?
This test poses no known risks.
What might affect my test results?
No other factors can affect your results.
How do I get ready for this test?
You don't need to prepare for this test. But be sure your healthcare provider knows
about all medicines, herbs, vitamins, and supplements you are taking. This includes
medicines that don't need a prescription and any illicit drugs you may use.